IQBAL: This is Iqbal Lewis, with reminiscences of Murshid Samuel Lewis. The first time I met Murshid Samuel Lewis was on the Urs of Hazrat Inayat Khan, it was the year 1970, sometime in July, it was on the Birthday of Inayat Khan, July 5th.
We were doing dancing, and I remember most distinctly was, Murshid looked at me, he kind of cocked his head and took this real look. And that was the last contact I had with him for maybe a week or more. I’d come to dancing and I had decided that this was the place. I wanted to stay here so I had an interview with him. I asked Wali Ali if I could have an interview with him and he said sure. So then I came up and had the interview with Murshid. It was absolutely nothing like I would have expected. He just wouldn’t relate as I wanted him to, truly. The interview lasted about ten minutes, but I can say that the most interesting thing about this interview was, Murshid asked me a question to which I responded and then he asked me that same question again and I remember that in his presence I went into a very deep place and came out with this totally different answer.
The reason it made me feel so good was that finally, this deep part of my being was coming forth and this was just after spending about ten minutes with him. Then, at that meeting, I told Murshid that I wanted to become his disciple and that I was going to fly to New York and sell all my stuff and come back in two weeks. And he said that was alright with him, but did I have a place to sleep?
I said yes, and then if I had a job, I said no, but I have some money. And he said that was alright. So then I flew home and came back in 2 weeks and I was living in a (???) street. And then I used to go to every meeting that Murshid would hold, and he would keep saying “I need help, I need help.” I’d go up to him, what I’d really wanted to do was to type in his office, so I could spend all this time with him. And I’d say “Murshid, I can help, I can type.” And he’d just ignore me. Then he’d go to the next meeting and he’d say, “I need help, I need help!" I’d say in the car, he was letting me drive him around, I’d become his chauffeur, I’d had this car and no one else was driving, then, and I’d say, “Murshid, I’ll help you." And then he’d just ignore me. Then one day in front of the Mentorgarten I said, “Murshid, I’ll help you, I’ll help you. I can type.” And so he just ignored me and he said, “Well goodbye," and he walked out of the car.
This went on for a while, and then I remember, when I’d come back from New York, I had this feeling that I should raise money for Rabbi Shlomo Carlbach. Because Shlomo had asked me and so I called up Wali Ali, and said “Listen, since I’m going to be raising money for Shlomo, I might as well raise money for Murshid, and the Holy Order of Mans. I might just as well make it a universal thing.” At which point Murshid told people that he had seen a sign or seen something that just meant something to him that concerned his concentration in the Middle East. So, he called me in along with Banefsha Gest and Michael Gest, and Phillip Davenport and Sitara and Wali Ali and he formed this group called “Hallelujah! The Three Rings.” The thing is, I just don’t remember how the group was formed, in the presence. I kind of remember coming in and having this meeting with him, but I don’t remember anything that happened at the meeting. And then, suddenly, this group was forming, “Hallelujah! The Three Rings,” working for peace in the Middle East. I had no idea what it was or anything what was going on or what was happening. But, bit by bit, Murshid revealed it and he wrote it when he was in New York. The last trip he made to New York he wrote his Peace Plan, in which he gave us a sizeable chunk of what he was thinking and feeling. Since then we’ve been able to get a deeper feeling for the Peace Plan.
O.K. now, the thing about the Peace Plan, is that Murshid would say in the Peace Plan, at least to my mind at that time, some of the most outrageous things one could imagine. One, for example he would say, “We have solved all the problems to the Middle East.” So when I first heard him say this, he said it publicly and to me a number of times. I said, ”What?” I didn’t understand it, nor did I actually believe it because I didn’t understand it. And then one day after Murshid had passed away, I was down at the University of Arizona at their enclosed environmental research center, and I was speaking with the second in command there. I said to him, “We’ve solved all the problems to the Middle East.” And he said, “You’re right, we have.” And what he meant by that, which is what Murshid meant, is that California, in solving its own soil problems, has also solved the soil problems of the Middle East in the fact that it’s devised a methodology in which to deal with the problem. And in many cases it has actually solved the problem. There are many comparable factors; same soil, some might have the same salinity. I mean, I don’t know the details, but generally this is it.
The premise of the Peace Plan is that Murshid really defined the problems, as they actually existed, not as we read about them in the newspaper. He was a man who could really see what was happening. For example, he defined the problems that were confronting the Middle East as: Food, Water, and Housing. These were the problems, he said, that the Middle Easterners themselves say are the problems. So in order to bring peace in the Middle East, one has to bring their concentration to resolving the shortage of housing, making sure that everyone’s adequately clothed, and that there’s adequate food. One thing he did, and he did it all the time, was, just by being around him all the time, he tried to make people think clearly, and accurately, because he did. See, he was a scientist and he always said he was a scientist. In fact he told me personally that someone at the University of California told him that he was the best, or most proficient, researcher they had ever had. And he told the story once, about how he was doing some research and he discovered this new law, and a voice from Heaven said, “Samuel, stop, you’ve gone too far, no one would understand what you are doing." So he stopped, and I think that these two things have some connection. But he was a most proficient researcher. Now, as I stated earlier, I was Murshid’s chauffeur. I had this 1965 yellow Chevrolet, which I’d drive him around in, with bucket seats … it was funny. And so I got to go with him and take him places, and everything was a learning experience. The first time I ever took him anyplace was only a few days after I’ d met him and it was even before I’d gone to New York. He called me up and he said … Yes, actually, the first time I had driven him anywhere, was we were at a meeting (in San Anselmo) and he said “I need someone to drive me from Novato to San Francisco. So I volunteered, and in that drive, somehow, he asked me to take him to see . . . I forget the fellow's name, he was the fellow who was concentrated in his third eye, something like Stravinsky. It will come to me later. We went to see his daughter, and I was with Murshid. She was talking, and everything was going along, and Murshid turned to me and said, “I’ve seen enough, are you ready to go?” And I said, “No, no, not yet.” And then he said okay. About 30 seconds later, he turned to me and said “Let's go!” So then we got up and left right in the middle. Then he told me later that this woman just had a father complex. I guess there wasn’t much happening. And then I used to drive around to the Holy Order of Mans.
I used to take him shopping. Murshid’s principle of shopping was when you go into an area you do everything you can in the area. You don’t go east and west and back east, and south, and north. You go east, you do five things in east. You go north, you do five things in north and that way and so on. He had clusters of shops. Like Capricorn Coffee was across the street from his poultry store. Anyway, he didn’t waste any energy when he shopped. Now that I just stopped and think this could be an endless tape of things.
Murshid’ s meetings were a tremendously peaceful and joyful times. More peaceful than anything, just tremendously secure. I mean, you would come into this meeting and he had everything under control. His presence was comforting and he looked masterful in a loving and peaceful way. We would dance and the dances were simply ecstatic and tremendously real. Your heart could just open in his presence and you could go as high as you wanted. And then, if you had any questions, you could sit down and talk. He would answer your questions. You just felt satisfied and filled up. But, of course, there was always a part of you that was in turmoil, at least it was with me, because I was just coming into the path, I had a lot of questions. I was searching for these great experiences. It was always at a point where you weren’t at rest. He would address himself to the business at hand. Sometimes I look back at those meetings, and they were very, very secure.
Once, I drove Murshid to Berkeley. I only say that because I think it’s important to be recorded. We drove to Berkeley and we went to the Near Eastern Language Department and Murshid set up a $100 a month donation. I was with him when he did this. We went to the Alumni Office fellow to find out how to do it, and then we went to the language department and we said we were going to do it, then we went to the donations department and we did it. We did this all in one day. Murshid gave a couple hundred dollars and then he passed on. I know some of the disciples, at least one of the disciples, wants to carry this on some time. But he had always got a lot of support from them, at least in his early days. Maybe this is why he did it.
I also had the opportunity to live with Murshid for several months. He told Wali Ali that even if he didn’t want me to live there, it didn’t matter, because God said I should live there with him and that was that. It worked out this way … Sitara went to New York with Murshid. Murshid told me I could sleep in his room, which was a tremendous grace. Then, Sitara wasn’t coming back and so I really wanted to live at the Mentorgarten … I really wanted to do it … so I really wanted to do it for a week. Then Murshid came in through the back door, passed me, we had this real heart connection, and then he said to me, “You’re going to stay in the backroom for a while,” when he walked by and that was that. And all I could say was “yeeeah…,” something like that.
Living with Murshid was something else! I used to live downstairs, so, 5:30 in the morning to 6:00 o’clock you would hear “Crash! Bang! Crash!” That was these pots, just smashing to the floor. I mean that sometimes I thought that Murshid must just be dropping them on the floor on purpose. But no, they weren’t. And then I moved upstairs into the backroom, and I used to get up very early and do my practices and then come out by 7:00, and there’d be Murshid, just sitting in the kitchen. These meetings, these early morning meetings were just wonderful. If I were disturbed, he would say something to soothe it. You could see that he would say anything and do anything as long as peace was the result, in his case, as long as it didn’t hurt anybody, but any concepts you had, or any concepts of the culture. For example, one day, this was before I was with Sitara, there were several Sufi women who I was interested in, and it got kind of confusing at times. One night, it all started to come down. The next morning, I was walking out of my room, I was feeling kind of guilty about everything and wondered what to do. Murshid looked at me, you see, the next thing he said was, "You can have two wives," and then he jumped up, “and I said it publicly!" Then he slapped his leg, “ …That you can have two wives!!" And then suddenly I didn’t care that I had more than one potential girlfriend, it just … it all went away.
One morning he said, “Do you wanna take a walk to the bakery?" We’d go to the bakery and…. One memorable morning Wooter came along and Murshid was in this tremendous state of ecstasy. He’d have these white sugar donuts and he was eating them and he was giving them to Wooter, and there was white sugar all over Wooter's snout. Murshid was just laughing hysterically, and laughing, laughing joyously, as we walked down the street, and Wooter was eating donuts and it was just crazy.
We used to go shopping, with Murshid, down to the Farmers' Market. We would just buy food with him, and it really didn’t matter what he was doing, it was just wonderful to be with him. You never fell asleep. You see, life was a tremendously real and interesting and absorbing, and he was in it, you see, or not in it. Everything was interesting…. He’d go by a corner and you’d see some … it didn’t matter … you’d just go by this corner, and you’d be ready to go asleep for a second, in your mind and we’d pass these girls in mini-skirts, and Murshid would say, “EGO!!!" and that’s all, and then you’d wake right up again, start noticing what was going on and then…. Really, it wasn’t that they were in mini-skirts, their hair was in a bouffant. It was one of those two. Now that I just stop and think, it was just endless. I was only with Murshid a few months, but it was an experience. He drew me in as close as I would come, and the experience was … now that I think about it, it was just full, just full of experience.
He used to lead two classes and cook dinner, and serve dinner on Sundays. And I kind of remember these dinners. It was a kind of a pea curry, or a split pea curry and always enough to eat. Very high, maybe, like 20 or 30 disciples would come and eat. During the cooking he would go upstairs. Between the afternoon class, and dinner he would go upstairs and watch television and crack nuts. Then, for dinner, he would come down and he would laugh and joke and he would eat with us. Then he’ d go back upstairs and then come down for the meeting.
Maybe living with him was a meeting. Maybe the whole thing was just one meeting. I mean, I looked forward to the meeting because there was a lot of group energy. Just living with him was a meeting. At that point he was dictating to Wali Ali. He wanted to have a secretary to answer the phone. It seemed like he just wanted to concentrate on what he had to do. It was at that time he dictated his "Six Interviews with Inayat Khan." I was present at the first dictation, the first three or four of those. And every once in a while, Murshid would be dictating and I would just go and sit down, and just sit there and try to experience what was happening. One night, Shambala presented Murshid as a Sufi Master in Berkeley. Murshid didn’t want any of his disciples to come, but I could drive him. So, we went there, and it was that night that Murshid, publicly, in front of a lot of people, turned to me and he said the most remarkable things about me, to my face and in front of everyone else. At the end of the meeting, in my heart, there was a tremendous feeling of reverence for him. I sound sober and know what was happening, but then I was in such a state of mind of just exuberance and awe. What could be better? You’ve finally found a Sufi Master and it was everything and more, because he was there. Now you say a feeling of reverence. I didn’t know it was a feeling of reverence then, it’s taken me several other experiences with this feeling to name it. And I remember that after he’d done it, all I wanted to do was put on his shoes, but Murshid wasn’t for this kind of people kissing his hand and so on. I really wanted to put on his shoes, I had this feeling in my heart. So, Murshid turned around to me and said, "Would you please help me with my shoes?" … so I did.
This is an interesting point, we just turned off. Murshid had the ability, whatever he was, he could look at some people … I’ll just put it this way, when Murshid looked at me, he really saw who I was. Not only what my personality was. Not only did he see my essence, but he just saw what one could call the purpose of one’s life, or one’s dharma, or how one should work, and this was the great thing in front of Murshid, that is, he didn’t treat you like … can you imagine someone who didn’t treat you like a son, and yet he did treat you like a son, didn’t treat you like a king, and yet he did treat you like a king. He didn’t treat you like God and yet, he did treat you like God. The thing was that he could look at you and the place that he saw, he would relate to. For here was finally someone who’d relate to the highest qualities within you. It’s just that he would see, if you really were a king he could see it and then he would relate to it and you became it.
So there has been no one since, maybe bar one or two…. Actually, there are flashes of it since, there are a few around and I’ve met a few on my travels. Particularly, I met this Buddhist I saw in Jerusalem. The second they see it, that’s what they relate to. So, finally, you’re awake. And so Murshid, in his presence, simply asked from you, because of what his vision of you was, that you become what he saw. That was the only game in town, that’s what was going on. So finally, in my own being, he called forth every bit of potentiality within me. I always felt within myself that I had executive capacity, not executive in the sense that I’ d be sitting here with a big, fat cigar and that kind of stuff, but I’ d be able to put my vision and my feelings into some type of form on the earth. See that I could build things, and Murshid saw this. I always had a sense of maybe my soul or something, and then the fact that Murshid would take me, and let me sleep in his bed, and trust me with the ideals of the “Three Rings…,” these things!! I mean, he just related to you in such a high, high plane. The poets say that “He saw the flower in the garden,” the flower of your soul in the garden. That’s, I guess, poetically, but that was the experience. You couldn’t come in his presence and try to hide and hack around. I remember, when I came in his presence one day, I was stoned, I had smoked some grass. That was one of the most frustrating, ridiculous experiences. Here was this being, just because of the power of the light within him, and where he was, it seems like I just had a lot of trouble relating to him that night. It seems that whatever I sent out, he wasn’t interested in hearing about it. He was just interested in being an open channel.
Of course, another great thing about Murshid was his disciples. Here was a group of people who, at most moments, if not all, were manifesting this tremendous ideal. They were open, they were full of love, they were confident. People might not see it that way, but that’s how I saw it. And they just loved Murshid, you just couldn’t help getting swept up in this tremendous love for him.
I remember this camp in Arizona, which Pir Vilayat held. This was the first time I had a chance to meet everybody. I met Wali Ali. Actually, that was the time I first met Murshid, was when I met him through Wall Ali, Shabda and all these people. They were just so open and wise and you know, hip in a high sense, and so then, my question to Wall Ali was, "can you hug Murshid?" And he said "Yeah, you can hug Murshid." So that kind of did it for me, if you can hug him. Then I thought, "It’s all right … I can go," and then I went.
Another story then comes to mind. This is the time that Asa got lost. Asa was a two or three year old who lived in the house. He was lost and everyone was hysterical, and Murshid simply said, if you really want to help him, just be peaceful. That’s really something, if you think about it, and of course, then it was peaceful and they found Asa. He had to yell a few times to get everybody around him to keep peaceful.
As far as the “…Three Rings” go, Murshid came back from New York, and he had a meeting with us. I can just remember his presence, I can remember him sitting there. I can remember him telling us that during the war-time in the 1940’s, he used to leave his body and enter the body of Jews who were being tortured and just about to die, and he would release their souls, and he would stay in there the last few minutes. I told this story to one person, and he said "Wow! What a Dharma!" I told the story to someone else, and they said, hmm … a Bodhisattva. That meeting he just discussed general business, and some of the things that happened to New York and gave us some contacts. He said he did a lot of work for us in “The Three Rings.” He went to the U.N. and here and there. A lot of these we followed-up and made contacts about fundraising and things like that. Murshid referred to peace in the Middle-East as one of his lifelong concentrations. It’s been very real and sober working on that.
One day we held a Jamboree or a meeting in the park. We did dancing in the morning and there were a thousand people. Murshid, after that dancing, said to us, "That was the high point of my life." Yes, that was when there were a thousand people, in the park, I think Golden Gate Park, chanting Allah, and all the dances. Murshid said that he had had a commission from his Pir, Sufi Barkat-Ali, (I don’t actually know if it was Barkat-Ali,) to get 50,000 Americans to say Allah. I read in one of Murshid’s letters that he considered his mission a success. I guess he could see that it would be just a matter of time before a thousand would turn to 50,000.
Then there was the day when we had this “Equinox Celebration” in the park, and Yogi Bhajan was there. Some fellow showed up and challenged Yogi Bhajan, and I was sitting with Murshid. Yogi Bhajan said, “Alright, let this fellow come up.” This fellow sat down in front of Yogi and Murshid and started to insult Yogi Bhajan and say, "Oh you, you’re fat…" And then Murshid would chime in with something like, "That’s great, that means you must be eating good foods…." Then the guy would say, “you’ve got all these women secretaries….” And then Murshid would laugh and say, "Ha, ha, I didn’t know you had all these fine points." And then he would say to Yogi Bhajan, "I have a women secretary, too." And then, whatever this fellow would say, Murshid simply would turn it and then praise Yogi Bhajan for the very thing that this guy was criticizing Yogi Bhajan for. So, finally this fellow turned to Murshid and he said to him, "What are you? Who are you? Do you speak for God?" And Murshid pulled himself up out of his chair and got into this kind of posture, sitting very straight, with his hands on his knees, and he said in a voice—the quality of that voice, to this day, it surprised me because it just had no ego. His answer was, "yes," that he did speak for God. But he just said "yes." I could never imitate the quality—maybe I could someday, but I can’t now, that was in his voice. He didn’t say "yes! " with pride. Maybe it was more like that, the statement of a simple fact, "yes." No, it wasn’t like that. Anyway, to me I felt this was a great moment. And I asked Murshid if he had ever heard of the Sufis who were blameworthy. By blameworthy I meant those were the guys who went around and just did things so they’d get a lot of blame heaped on their head. And Murshid said yes, they’re called the Khalandaris. Sitara told me that Murshid said when he went to Ithaca, he said that he had met a Khalandari. In fact, this fellow who had come to insult Yogi Bhajan was a Khalandari. I personally never felt any animosity between Yogi Bhajan and this guy and I personally never felt any bad vibes, but other people reported they did. I didn’t. From where I was, it was simply a play. Some kind of play going on where this man, it seemed like the whole purpose of it was to ask Murshid this question, so Murshid could give that answer. That was the high-point of the whole thing.
Do I think this man was doing that consciously? I don’t know. Actually, I don’t know. I don’t think so. Although, one never knows. There were no bad vibrations. So, in that respect, I’d have to say yes, because he wasn’t mad at Yogi Bhajan, there wasn’t any hate, no violence at that meeting. Although, around us, the amazing thing was that around us, maybe 100 feet in either direction, police were giving the people who had come to the festival a terrible time. They were arresting them, and when it got very tough, Murshid just split.
But then I saw this fellow again at Muktananda’ s place serving food. And when I saw him then, I got the feeling that he was in a less conscious place. He didn’t appear to be particularly conscious to me so the answer to the question is, I don’t know.
I can say, in passing, that Murshid referred to me as his cousin. He said that I’m his cousin and this is how we should keep it, it would save a lot of explaining when we went out in public. He just introduced me as his cousin, because I have the same name as he had.
One of the things that always impressed me about Murshid was the authority with which he spoke. Mostly everything he said had this tremendous “Divine Reason” behind it. I mean, some of it, when you read his writings all you can say is “Boy, isn’t that true! You know, why didn’t I think of that before?” Then, when you were with him, the things he said, they all seemed just so right. Besides blowing your mind, and breaking your concepts, a lot of them seemed right. The way he thought, and the power and authority, and the confidence and the sureness of foot, as he walked through life was, I guess you could say, inspiring. But it really is memorable. He was always there, ready to meet anybody who would meet him.
I remember, one day, Murshid said he wanted to get rid of loneliness in women, and fear in men, and he said, "Are any of the men here afraid? Now who’s afraid? Anyone feel fear? Who feels they’re afraid?" So I raised my hand. He said, "Alright, get up." He said, "This is a practice that my Zen Teacher gave me." He said," Say Allah, in your heart, and breath up your spine." So I did this practice for a very long time.
And then one day I was talking to Wali Ali and suddenly it occurred to me, here, he said his Zen teacher gave him this practice and it had Allah in it. That’s when I started to laugh. Then later, when I went to Taisons, I met what Murshid said was a Zen Master. I went to his zendo in New York and we started to do these practices, these pure Buddhist practices. I saw that Murshid had really integrated it all together. Our practices were really half Zen, or whatever Zen is, half from the Buddhist tradition. It was all there. There was no difference between them except for the sitting, there was very little difference with what I experienced with Taison and the practices we’d do with Murshid. There were some differences but essentially, it was the same. He had integrated all these practices. Like a new vibrant whole.
Now the interesting thing was that Murshid said that he had conquered pain. Now, that didn’t mean that he didn’t feel pain, because once I saw him feeling pain and it registered on his face, and he was in pain. But he could simply become impersonal to it. Anytime he wanted, or when he wanted. And the greatest thing was his love, his love for God. This was the thing about Murshid, he had this ceaseless, powerful, real, uplifting love and concentration on God, it seemed, at all times. Anything he did, or didn’t do, it came from God. He was constantly listening, and the people, because of that, the people who were around him, myself for example, would start to listen to the divine Voice within, because that was what Murshid was doing. And if you wanted to relate to him, you had to do it for yourself, because there came a time when he wouldn’t make up your decisions for you, He wouldn’t make decisions for you.
I remember, one day, he sent me down into the basement and he told me to do this practice and let me know, and decide … that was it. It was as simple as that.
Murshid was the first being in whom I would see and believe the statement, “I am you and you are me.” He said, “Everything you see is yourself.” And for sure, the one thing I saw was that he really loved his disciples. That he just really loved them, and that he considered them part of himself and he was just part and parcel of every one of them. Our pain was his pain, and our ecstasy was his ecstasy. Our fatigue was his fatigue, our work was his work. It was just all there together. There was very little, if any, distinctions or differences like that. I mean, here was a feeling, you see, when there were no words spoken, and one could just feel it, especially after he left, you’d just feel that he just loved everybody. And if you wanted to honor, at least to my own mind, if you wanted to honor Murshid meant to honor his disciples. I mean you couldn’t say after he died, "I’m Murshid, get lost," you had to try to incorporate everybody into your being, as he had done … this is what he did.
He left us a great legacy of friends. He left us Joe Miller, Teddy Reich, Vocha Fisk, and Ajari Warwick, and others. The other thing is, if you look at Wali Ali and Moineddin, I can’t say whether you can see or not see Murshid, what you can say is that you can see two great beings. This was something else he left us. Just last night Wali All spoke at the Indio-American conference put on by the Ambassador to India. Wali Ali got up there and he simply represented the here and the now, this moment, what was happening. And when Moineddin was he started to sing “Om, Sri Ram, Jai Ram …." I mean he just sung out. The choir, all these things that he left us, the quality that they have is love.
I listened to something that Murshid said. "When I’m gone," he said, "do not think of me as the Avatar. Do not call me the Avatar.” And he also said to several people and maybe even in front of myself, "I’m not perfect." He said that a lot, “I’m not perfect. I have these faults. In fact, one day I asked God about these faults, and He said, ‘Samuel, your faults are my perfections.’"
MOUNI: I was living out at a big communal ranch, outside of Novato, and I’d really been floundering around. I knew that I was looking for a spiritual teacher, but I really didn’t know what that meant. In fact, I had no idea what it meant, it just kept coming into my thought that that’s what I was doing. So this person named Sheila asked me if I’d like to come and meet this funny little old man that she went to see. And I immediately flashed and said yes. So I started going to see Murshid. At that time, he was holding meetings at a place that was called the Mentorgarten; also at Sheila’s house in Mill Valley. I think the first time that I saw him was at Sheila’s. There was a couch that he used to sit on there, and people would sit on either side of him. I remember noticing this one girl who had this great big smile on her face all the time. I couldn’t figure out what she was laughing about all the time, like every few sentences of Murshid’s she would start cracking up. I found out later, that was Fatima, and she was cracking up over these stories that Murshid told over and over again. And after I had been with Murshid for a while, I was one of those people with a big smile on my face too.
I remember that first meeting, Murshid always tried to ask a question of a new disciple in those days. There weren’t as many disciples then as there were later, and he would really get to meet each one right away. He’d try to do something that would draw you out a little bit. Somehow, he started talking to me and I ended up sitting next to him on the couch. I thought that I should say something and I really didn’t have anything to say, so I said, "Have you ever read this book?" and I named this book that I had been reading. And he just kind of looked at me. And I said, "What do you think of it?" He looked at me and he said, "What do you think of it?" which was just like listening to Iqbal on the tape, saying that Murshid didn’t make decisions for us. That was my first initiation into Murshid’s way of teaching. He let me know immediately that I wasn’t going to be coming to him for a kind of sugar-water or something. He immediately let me know that he was going to teach me how to stand on my feet, which is what he did for me, because I wasn’t on them at the time I met him.
In those days, we weren’t doing dancing yet, he was just beginning to get the inspirations for them. We didn’t start doing them until later in Corte Madera, the first Garden of Allah. It wasn’t called the Garden of Allah then. But in those early days, he would sit on the couch and read from Hazrat Inayat Khan, ask for questions, and just generally fill the space with blessings and good cheer. We’d usually have tea and ice cream. There was always ice cream around Murshid. He seemed to have an approach to eating that was the opposite of a lot of spiritual discipline, so-called, which was, instead of thwarting your desires for a certain type of food, he always fed them. He often said that he was disciplining himself in this way, because he had been so ascetic for so many years. Now he was disciplining himself by eating as much good food and having as many parties as he possibly could. It seemed like we had ice cream after everything. Any excuse for having ice cream. Like, we’d always leave the Wednesday night meeting in time to get to Baskin Robbins. And we had it after supper, and we were always having birthday parties. There turned out to be so many disciples he couldn’t keep up with it anymore. I remember him shouting, "No more birthday parties!" We still had about five after that. We pretty much cut down, after a certain point. But in the early years, it seemed like a continuous round of birthday parties. I think a part of it was, a lot of us came to him in a really dragged out condition … just kind of at our end, you know? People had been on speed, or people had done this or that, just were in bad shape. Murshid did what any child would recommend and that was have birthday parties. We started learning how to have fun, and how to relax, enjoy the simple things of life. That was one thing that Murshid really taught me. I’d been into some really “strict” trips myself, trying to get some kind of order into a very chaotic life. I started learning how to just enjoy. We used to go out to restaurants a lot. And there were always three big meals a day at the Khankah, every one as good as the next, with lots of goodies. I looked out the window in the morning, I lived across the street from the Khankah, which was Murshid’s house in Novato, and I’d see him trundling in the back gate with his arms full of big white sacks, which meant that he’d been to the bakery, as usual. And he’d usually have some chicken necks for the cats and a bone for Rufus, too. He never forgot anybody.
One time, he asked me if I liked strawberry ice cream, because, we were eating it. He had just bought some and we were having it. I didn’t want to be impolite, so I said, "yes." But actually, it was one of my least favorite flavors. So, after that, for quite a while, we had strawberry ice cream every time we had ice cream. And I learned, besides learning how to like strawberry ice cream, learned something about sincerity, which was something Murshid was always teaching me one way or another, either directly or indirectly. He really taught me the ultimate practicality of being “straight with the world” in all your dealings, from the smallest to the biggest things.
Sometimes I’d see him working out in the garden and I’d say "hi," or "good morning," or something like that. Instead of speaking, he would give me a Darshan, and it would really set me straight. His glance was so clear that it would immediately tell you everything you wanted to know, for that time.
It seemed like Murshid’s teaching was really, totally active; that instead of sitting there and meditating, the teaching was meditation in action. And he applied the teachings and his highest sense of being to everything, every moment of life, just little things. I remember, once, I was working with him in the garden. I was having trouble getting the hose nozzle onto the hose. I couldn’t get the threads together. And he said, "Watch your breath!" And, of course, it worked immediately. It was just little things like that, if you had the opportunity to be around Murshid in daily life like that, were so invaluable, because you never forgot those practical applications that really taught you how to apply the teachings in everything you did.
He taught me a lot about using my intuition. It was never by sitting in meditation and doing anything from that approach. He would do things like, I would walk into the room, maybe people would be sitting down to dinner, or something, and he’d say, "Alright, who did I see today?" And then he’d say, "Don’t think! Don’t think!", shouting don’t think at you so you couldn’t think possibly, and if you got too clutched up, he’d answer himself, but if you could get out your impressions, you would be right more often than you’d suspect. And then he would look at you and wrinkle up his nose with his kind of “impish grin,” and say, "How did you know?" which would make everybody laugh. And he was always teaching us in these ways, how to always live in the presence of God, and never, never, be anywhere else and how everything opened up for you when you did this. Even when Murshid was annoyed or mad or something, you just always knew his concentration was never broken. I mean, he was just always in the “Presence.”
For me, it’s hard to distinguish between the teachings that he gave in a formal way, and the informal teachings, because being able to live close to him just brought everything to the practical level, so fast and so completely.
But thinking back on the meetings, certain things stand out like, as I said, Murshid wasn’t into teaching meditation as much as teaching an active realization of Divinity through dancing and singing and chanting. Sometimes he would give short meditations, and I mean short, like he’d give breathing practices and he’d just give them, and he’d say ,"Amin," and you would have hardly just had a chance to get started. Some people wondered about this, but he would say, “If they don’t get it in the first 15 seconds, they’re not going to get it,” which is a different approach than some people take. But with Murshid, everything was in the now. And if you didn’t get it in that first 15 seconds, you had lots of other chances because he gave the same practices over and over again. He did the Wazifa practices very fast. Listening to tapes, now, of Murshid, we hear him doing a practice on tape. It cracks us up because he did them so much faster than most of us do them now.
He moved pretty rapidly, in general, he got a lot done. He usually got up pretty early, like about 5:30 or something like that, did practices, worked hard all morning. When he was at the Khankah, he was in and out of the house, working the garden a lot. Sometimes, in the afternoon, he’d get really tired, and he’d just flop, as he called it. Sometimes, Fatima would find him lying out on the sidewalk, outside the back door. He just was like a little child you know, he got tired, he’d just lie down and go to sleep. People could step over him.
His room was just off the back door. He wouldn’t even close the door, he would just flop down on his bed and go out for a few minutes. And there’d be people out crashing through the back door. He had that kind of simplicity. He liked to cook for his disciples. Every Thursday morning, he’d make his special egg dish which always had greens from the garden in it. And he usually prepared them the night before, by dousing them under water for about 5 or 10 seconds, and then cooking them. Then they would be ready to put into this egg dish in the morning. The thing was, that when he washed them that way, he usually didn’t get about three quarters of the dirt off of them, off the greens, so you’d crunch down into it in the morning, and get this mouth full of sand. But those were the things about Murshid, maybe they would be trying in some ways, but they ended up teaching you something in one way or another and everything that he made was always so full of blessing that it was a joy to eat it.
Cooking with him was a trip, too. Sometimes he’d have some people help him, if there was going to be a big feast or something. I can remember making four different curries with him, one time. Four huge pots going. One was pea curry, one was pea curry with lamb, one was pea curry with shrimp, and I don’t remember the last one. They sort of all tasted alike, but the thing about cooking with Murshid was that it was such a gala affair. I mean, everything in the kitchen was just such a total wreck. And he’d grab spices out of the cupboard and say, "What about this one? What do you think about this one?" and we’d just sort of throw things in. He’d stir and taste and there’d be these sloppy spoons all over everything, but it was such an experience of joy. Even if we were beginning to get uptight, and it was time and people were going to be coming, it was just another example of Murshid’s childlike abandonment to whatever he was doing.
I remember, once, I was cooking with him in his kitchen at the Mentorgarten and there was Gilbert and Sullivan on the radio; that was his favorite. He was singing along with it at the top of his lungs and we came to this part where it was a soprano solo and it was too high for him. He just turned off the radio until it was over. And then, when it was over, somehow he was keeping track of this while he was cooking, he’d turn the radio back on and sure enough, it was starting back up right at another part, and he resumed singing along with it.
Once we went to see a Gilbert and Sullivan performance with Murshid. He loved Gilbert and Sullivan. He knew the words to all the plays. He’d gone with some disciples before, and he’d evidently sung so loud that it had really embarrassed them enough for them to ask him not to do it so much this time. Going out with Murshid in public, you had to get over your scruples, in the first place, because he tended to do things like get everybody to sing in a restaurant, which was alright in some restaurants, where they knew us already, but in others, it would make you cringe if you weren’t up to it. So anyway, going to this Gilbert and Sullivan, Murshid said he’d be on his good behavior, yes, he’d promise. So I sat next to him and he was really trying, you know, he was singing, sotto voce, he was singing very quietly. Only the people right around him, turned around to look at him. Fortunately, he was flanked mostly by disciples. He really had a type of exuberance that found it hard to control himself. He always talked about himself, socially, as being very inept. Like, he talked about himself as a young man as being a social failure. And, of course, in his later life, when he had gathered a family around him, he was so delighted, so grateful, because he’d spent so many lonely years, feeling that he was a social renegade and outcast and so forth. But after this particular Gilbert and Sullivan thing, he said in this real kind of wry tone of voice that one rarely heard him use, but he’d occasionally get into, he said, “Was I too bad?” Like he had this certain part of him that, you know, was very shy. And yet he had this total exuberance about, like, that he just couldn’t shut down.
When we met Murshid, Murshid had long since come to that place where he’d overcome any caring about the opinions of the world whatever, so he was a free being. But it really hung us up in the beginning, because we hadn’t gotten to that place yet. Like when I was talking about going to restaurants with him. There were just so many things that he did to let us see that the world was open. Here, we had been these hippies, that thought we were these free thinkers and we began to see how un-free we were. Murshid was really teaching us to live truly, to live from the spirit all the time, instead of from the letter, just in the mind. Like, we’d do practices with him in the city. We’d walk on the sidewalk and do two practices and, of course, people would look at us and everything. But with him it was the most natural thing. I mean, it just seemed like, why not? Of course, if only everybody in the world were doing that, it’d be a great place. Like that place in the movie ”Sunseed” where Murshid is up on the hill, shouting the call to prayer, out on the city street, and the motorcyclist goes by. It looks really funny to people who didn’t know Murshid, but that’s the way Murshid was. He didn’t draw any boundaries. He lived and moved in the world; he wasn’t of the world. He always was bringing heaven down to earth.
A lot of Murshid’s teaching with his close disciples was so direct, just even non-verbally direct. Like, he’d yell at you, and he’d hug you and kiss you. He’d do both within a matter of minutes. And that transmission would be coming through, no matter what the action was. He could really yell when you needed yelling at. He didn’t hesitate. Yeah, he yelled at me a lot, that was one of the benefits of living across the street from him. Because whenever I needed a good yelling at, I was really good and handy. Usually, after he yelled at me, he’d end up hugging me or kissing me. He always did the right thing. Sometimes, at that moment, it seemed like it was too much, and it would be very upsetting. But if your ego would cool down, and get over the shock of having the rug pulled from under it, you could see what he’d done and why he’d done it.
Murshid was always doing things like asking you to come over right away. Like, the phone would ring and somebody would say, "Could you come right over? Murshid has a new dance he would like to try out." And he was always just bubbling over with this or that. I feel like if I had enough time, I could think of hundreds of things that Murshid used to say, that just come to me in my life, all the time. It’s sort of like, he fed us this food, you know, that’s always there and these little teachings of his always pop out when you need it. He used to say, "I never pray anymore, because I always get what I pray for; you have to be careful." I didn’t realize that saying of his for a while, but it’s just one of those ones that have been coming out in my life. Murshid tended to repeat himself. I suppose some people might have wondered why or gotten bored or something, that was possible around Murshid. Whether he meant it to be that way or not was just—he taught us just like we were little children. He said the same things over and over again, partly, because he just liked to say them over and over again, I think. They really stuck and we really have a foundation inside of Murshid’s teachings. One thing that he used to say at the Wednesday night meetings, often, was (he’d say in a real sarcastic tone of voice,) "Do you know what everybody’s always talking about?" Then he’d answer himself, and he’d say, “Love….” He’d use this really gooey pronunciation of the word like he was just poking fun at all the hypocrites in the world, and the do-gooders. And then he’d say, "How can we expect to love the whole world, if we can’t even love our own family and our own neighbors?" And then he’d say, "Yes, OUR NEIGHBOR!” like the idea would be just really shocking to us. The idea of actually loving our neighbor. And if you lived close to Murshid, he taught you this teaching, not through lecturing or preaching, but through daily life. He taught us how to love through respecting each other. Doing what we’d said we would do, for example. Being on time, not hanging each other up with our trips, respecting each other's space. He did this by example, he did this by busting us when we fouled up, he did it by loving us all the time, himself.
I remember one incident when I was looking for Murshid and I walked upstairs at the Khankah and I found him sitting on the couch with a lady disciple and they were in a very blissful state. They were cracking nuts, which was Murshid’s favorite pastime. He was always delighted if someone gave him a bunch of walnuts. He considered it to be a present, because then he could crack them. Of course, they were always full of shells. But that’s something you got used to. There were always shells in the cake. Anyway, he was sitting there, cracking nuts on the couch. They were listening to Bach on the record player and they weren’t speaking. I had something on my mind that I wanted to get across to Murshid right away. So, the first thing I said was, "It’s beautiful music isn’t it?" Of course, just barging into the atmosphere, because I really wanted to do my thing. So Murshid just looked at me. I started immediately realizing that if it had been beautiful music, I had been barging into it and you couldn’t hear it anymore. And he got up, and he turned off the record player, and he turned on the T.V.. So I was thwarted in saying my thing to him and he also taught me a lesson in respecting each other's space, and manifesting love for each other in daily life.
My personal favorite story about Murshid happened as he was dying, so-called, in the hospital. He appeared to be in a state of semi-consciousness, or coma, at least the hospital staff must have thought that he was irrational and incoherent. But quite a number of his disciples experienced his state of consciousness at that time; that is he was able to return from whatever plane he was on and come back into Earth-plane consciousness at will. For example, when his secretary showed up he immediately sat up in bed. He’d been in a coma, people just thought he was in a coma, but he sat up in bed and dictated a letter to his Murshid in Pakistan, completely rationally.
There were a couple of other stories that I might just relate in case they weren’t recorded.
There was a woman disciple, came in. Murshid decided that he wanted to give her his blessing. He said, "Hold out your right hand.." She was so shocked by this rational command from him, that she stuck out her left hand and he said, "No! your right hand," and he gave her his blessing. Another disciple who went in, a man, was asked to lean over closer and he got a smack in the face. Murshid could really be a classic Zen Master. It wasn’t always in that way, but he used the way that he needed in order to awaken people. Although he was usually much gentler with women than he was with men, he used pretty strong tactics with men, often to awaken them to their manliness.
The story that I’m leading up to was when I went to visit him. I’ll just tell about the whole afternoon. He was tossing and turning all afternoon, he was physically in pretty bad shape. He had all kinds of things wrong with his body. He had a rash all over it which caused him great discomfort. This condition, which resulted from his fall, turned out later that it was a brain concussion or something. But the feeling around the bed, where he was, in the hospital was anything but painful, it was just full of light. If he was in pain, it certainly wasn’t the center of his consciousness. At one point, a girl came up to the bed, she was visiting someone else in the room. She heard that Sufi SAM was up there. She came up to me and said, "Oh, it’s so sad isn’t it?" and I said, "No, it’s not sad at all." The idea of being sad was just foreign and alien to the atmosphere, because there was just light and radiance all around Murshid, wherever he was. So, he’d been tossing and turning, mumbling. I couldn’t understand anything he was mumbling about and I knew that he hadn’t eaten that day and there was a carton of milk on the little table, next to the bed. He kind of started scrabbling through the bars of the hospital bed with his hands trying to reach something. So, I said, "Do you want something Murshid, do you want something?" I kept asking him that because he kept trying to reach something. But he didn’t say anything, he just kept mumbling and I couldn’t understand him. I didn’t know if he was understanding me or what. So I tried to give him the milk, tried to hand him this milk, put the straw up to his lips or something. And he said,"NO!" just, you know, shouted it. But then he kept still trying to reach something. So I kept saying, "Do you want something Murshid, is there something that you want?" I didn’t know if he could understand me or anything. All of a sudden he yelled, "YES!" I was quite astonished and I said, "What, what do you want?" And he reached his arms up above the bars and said, "YOU!" He pulled my head down and I thought I was going to fall into the bed, head first, because I was going up over these bars of this hospital bed and he gave one of those inimitable kisses, a big grinning kind of smack on the lips. We were in a state of delight for the rest of the afternoon, despite the itches and coma and everything else. Iqbal was talking about how he had overcome pain; maybe that was an example of it. But it’s also an example of how Murshid felt about us all. He really wanted us all, he just wanted us right in his heart. And that was how he taught us. That was really the center of his teaching, more than anything else. He wanted everything for us. He wanted us to find Divine perfection. And he did everything he could for us to find that. But maybe more than wanting anything for us, he just reduced it to the simplest and most meaningful state of just wanting us.
AKBAR: I was working for Standard Oil, in the financial district and Murshid’s first disciple in San Francisco, Clark L. Brown, was delivering mail to the office that I was working at. He took a liking to me and decided to introduce me to his Yoga teacher. I was interested in Yoga, I was interested in mental development, and also, at the time, I was an athlete—I was boxing. I was interested in techniques to increase my endurances at almost a mundane level, actually. My father had been practicing Yoga for a number of years at that time. He told me he was at a point where he could breathe one breath a minute. At his urging, I finally saw Murshid after about three tries and it was a unique experience.
QUESTION: He said that Murshid was his Yoga teacher?
AKBAR: Yes, Rajah Yoga. At the time I didn’t know what Rajah Yoga was, or Hatha Yoga. I thought all Yoga was Yoga. I guess, ultimately, it is, but there are different paths. So I met Murshid at Clementina Street. I came in and it was quite a startling revelation to me, because Murshid didn’t meet any of the preconceptions of what a Yoga Master was supposed to be like. A rumpled, little old man, he was sitting in a rather squalid place, shocking, baggy, khaki gardener pants, his fly down, you know, one cuff rolled up higher than the other. I wasn’t sure I could make it, but he took a liking to me and I took a liking to him. And he urged me to keep coming back, and I started coming back. I kept coming back, once or twice a week. And that’s how I met Murshid from Clark L. Brown.
QUESTION: Any particular incidents that you'd like to talk about?
AKBAR: Sure, the group change in nature. What initially attracted me to become an initiate and disciple, and making Murshid my master. The fact that, initially, I believed in having a very small, intensive study group of 12 disciples, possibly 13. Then he had an incident which he labeled food poisoning, and after that the whole psychedelic revolution was going on. He was taken to Chinese hospital. I was visiting. I believe I was his third or fourth disciple, and he said he had a revelation from God that he was supposed to lead the hippies. We started doing a weekly walk through the Haight Ashbury and all over the city, which was wonderful. And the group changed from being a small group of 12 or 13, to what it is today, probably 300 or 400 disciples in the Bay Area alone. And I saw that transformation come about. I saw it grow, it was a beautiful thing. I saw when Moineddin first came, at that time he was known as Carl Jablonski, and his wife Fatima. Moineddin, Jemila, I had some really nice times with the group.
QUESTION: Is there anything you want to tell about?
AKBAR: There’s so much. There’s nothing that I could say that would adequately express, you know, what I got out of the group and my association with Murshid. It certainly changed my life. It had a profound effect. I would be grateful for the opportunity that God gave me.
QUESTION: Could you tell how it changed your life?
AKBAR: It made me remember a lot of things that I’d already known; it made things clearer. I have never consciously tried to direct my life in any direction; I have always attempted to flow. Oftentimes, I didn’t know where I was going. I have a better idea of where I’m going, now. So maybe with a little bit of that glimmer of consciousness, I’ll get there a little faster, achieve it a little quicker. That’s how it changed my life.
QUESTION: Would you like to tell any incidents?
AKBAR: Nothing, particularly sticks out in my mind. The walks were wonderful; a lot of spiritual experiences with the walks. That will always be a very pleasant memory program in my mind. In some ways, a lot of Murshid’s talks were, in some way, over my head. Murshid was so intellectual. At the time I met him I was about 18 years old. My development, maybe, wasn’t quite as pro-found as I thought it may be. I remember always sitting and being very devotional and oftentimes, either nodding off, or just sitting there in a blur, absorbing the vicinity as much as I could. Not really understanding what was being said, and not always agreeing with everything that was said. Maybe, because I didn’t understand it.
QUESTION: Can you describe the walks to me?
AKBAR: The walks were always (I don’t know if they were,) refreshing, and sometimes arduous. I usually started off being tired at the beginning of the walks. They were a rejuvenating and exhilarating experience. For quite a while I was walking with Murshid alone. You know, like 5 and 6 in the morning, first thing and having a lot of spiritual experiences, which would be difficult to express in words. I don’t even know if I’d want to. I still have some. I believe there is power in silence. I don’t believe in dispensing too much by talking about things, by intellectualizing experiences, or even thinking about them so much. So, they were very powerful walks and perhaps were one of the more effective techniques that Murshid had for conveying what he wished to teach his disciples. They were full of love, they were full of joy, and they were full of revelation.
QUESTION: Just tell me about …
AKBAR: I started doing things with Murshid. He liked to travel; he wanted to travel. I had a '56 Chevy and we used to go all over the city. We used to visit some ashrams. We went to Davis. He wanted to see some of the dams that had been built. We took a geography class together; a geography class at U.C. Extension. He was very animated about that, he was very interested in my education, in my getting ahead, academically. He was like a little boy in his delight when he would get an "A" on his papers. He used to get a real kick out of exchanging books with some of the professors. He, at times, was argumentative. He had a unique way of putting things, you know? Also, had a way of irritating some people. I don’t know whether he did that consciously or unconsciously, but he succeeded. But, all in all, it was a great experience. Going to school with Murshid and seeing how he handled that; traveling with Murshid was great. Seeing how he dealt with the so-called "professional echelon" of society and when he was dealing with some professors of agriculture at U.C. Davis. And going to the different department heads.
QUESTION: Do you have some of the details?
AKBAR: At times, from my very naive viewpoint, I feel that he misused some energies. For instance, if Murshid was going to go to India, he wouldn’t just go to a travel agent and just buy tickets to India. I don’t know, he would go down and be interviewed, or something. He got a special joy out of, I guess, going to greater lengths and more details, planning things out more or, I’m not sure how to even put it, but from where I was coming from, some of the things that he handled in person could have been handled over the phone. But when I think back on it, I think he did it, ironically, for me. I think he was having me go down with him, going through all these things that he had probably gone through many times before, so that I would see how to do it. At the time, I could not appreciate it. I was intimidated by the city, when I first met Murshid, I didn’t like to drive around. I was afraid, really, to drive in the city. He showed me much of San Francisco. At least he tried to make me feel more at ease. I don’t know if it was ever successful while I was with Murshid, but I feel pretty much at ease, now. When he went to U.C. Davis, I think, the whole thing was kind of cute. I went up there with Clark Brown. We went in the morning, I think I was about ten minutes late and he was somewhat angry. He came about the closest to being angry that I think he has ever been. He was waiting on the sidewalk and admonished me about how important it was to be on time. I still need to learn that lesson. I’m working on it, though. We went up to Davis. I think we did some breathing techniques. He taught me how to let the breath flow through the body, through the soles of the feet, and maintain consciousness, some chanting. He did a lot of talking. He liked to describe the countryside, how it used to be, how it could be. He talked about the project, which was one of his favorites, desert reclamation. I think he wanted to work on some land in Imperial Valley, on an experimental basis, and then ultimately, transfer it over to the middle East. He saw that as a way of bringing peace in the world. He spent all day up there, eight hours, and then we went back. He always used to watch how people ate. And what he ordered; he would make suggestions to see if you were open enough to try different things. Everything that Murshid did, I think, was very calculated and cautious. I don’t think he just casually did things. I think there was always a reason for it. This is what impressed me most of all. The professors, I felt, were a little bit nonchalant about the whole thing. It was a very important visit, let’s say, to UC Davis.
QUESTION: Was he visiting the agriculture department?
AKBAR: Yes, he was. You know, from one building to another, it was a little scattered, but I guess there were reasons for it. To this day, I’m not sure what they were, but I’m sure there were reasons for it. He made a big deal out of it. I don’t think he ever took it that lightly, may be why he was so successful on any level. He took it fairly seriously. He had a sense of humor, of course, but I think the Davis incident was very important for Murshid. He probably planned it out for weeks and months ahead of time. Whereas, to the professors, my impression was they were humoring the old man.
QUESTION: Was he aware of their attitude?
AKBAR: I think he was oblivious to their attitude. Also, there was another side trip. I think he was trying to register his goddaughter, I forget her name now, I think she’s a Murshida, but he was registering her at UC Davis and trying to get her through graduate work or something like that. So, it was a fun day. It was a way of seeing how Murshid did things. Murshid’s personality had a tendency to clash with others. That’s what I say, it was not always smooth, although, if he wanted to be diplomatic, it would be like “milk and honey.” But most of the time he chose to be himself and come out for that, you could just go along with him.
I think that, probably, the things that stick out most in my mind that I obtained from Murshid most thoroughly were, that one should be enthusiastic about one’s task, always loyal, filled with love, develop the heart, do your practices, teach, try and be a guide for others, always dance, walk, study, question, and ironically enough, don’t do too much thinking. Don’t use your intellect, use your intuition. The path of the heart; that’s how he obtained his dances. He claimed that he got them directly from God, and the names that he gave the disciples. Sharing, and always coming out for yourself; I think that those are the things that I got most from Murshid. Striving for complete freedom for all individuals. We have to go our separate way, not to give in to group pressure, not to do something because others are doing it, but do what feels right for you. And he placed no restrictions on anyone; I think that’s an important thing to remember. Those are the things I enjoy. I will say that most of my experiences with Murshid are on that level; too personal to talk about. It would be like divulging secrets of a love affair, which one holds sacred. And other than wasting whatever memory is there, and power in that memory, it would serve no purpose. And on my own personal, individual thing, would find myself inadequate to the task. I couldn’t put it into words. Even though Murshid said, "There are words. In Sanskrit." Unfortunately, I don’t know Sanskrit.
SAUL BARODOFSKY: I met Murshid in February of 1969, when Shireen and Basira directed me down from Mount Shasta to finally meet him. Anyway, I was in a pretty spacey and hazy place when I got here, and he immediately gave me my first Wazifas for strength and courage. If he says he’s the proof of the teaching of Inayat Khan, I guess I’m the proof of the teaching of Samuel Lewis. Anyway, I guess, the first time I met him, I think it was a Thursday night Gatha class at the Khankah in Novato, now, because I came in with Shireen. There were certain liberties afforded me. One of the liberties was that I was permitted to go to the Gatha class, but not to hear the Gathas. Basira, at the time, told me that they had done that for her also and I was never quite sure if I was a disciple or not. I was very confused. I would ask people about it and they would, pretty much, laugh. I remember asking Basira about it and she said, "You’re supposed to stay when they say all non-disciples leave the room and that makes you a disciple." She said, "He initiated me, the day after I did that and I’m sure that’s a key." So I did that, and Moineddin, who was reading the papers—Murshid would come in after the papers were all read—Moineddin looked at me and said, very gently, that I should leave the room, which I did. Anyway, when I first met him, I met him at one of those meetings. after the meeting, everything was very confusing. He sort of pulled me aside in the dining room and he surrounded himself, he was almost like a crescent, with his most beautiful ladies and he looked at me and he asked me who I was. He didn’t look at me and say, "Hi, I’m Sam. Who are you?" He asked me who I really was. It was a very interesting experience. I’d been given all these keys and things on Mount Shasta, that I should ask a teacher before I was initiated, so I did that, and he looked at me and said, "I don’t know any of those things." He said, "I don’t even know what you’re talking about and none of that makes any sense to me." As soon as he said it, I realized that he was my teacher. And I guess I danced around about that for about two months, or so. And finally he initiated me. What else would you like to know?
QUESTION: Are there any incidents you want to talk about?
SAUL: There were lots of incidents. I was Murshid's de facto domino. His chauffeur, his gardener, his “yeller-atter,” his “read-letters-to-during-the-day-er,” and to be with Murshid was to be in a world of incidents. Literally nothing went by that’s not memorable, literally. You could probably talk for hours and hours and hours and not even get to the first year. I’ll say something that’s sort of interesting. When I first met him, he really talked a lot and he told me that he knew everybody in the whole world. He named all these names of famous people, and I didn’t believe him. I was putting it all, sort of, in abeyance, put it off to the side. I didn’t disbelieve him, but I didn’t believe him. It was just a little outrageous that this funny little man in this run-down part of the mission district who didn’t even have a car to his name, would know all these people. He just didn’t act like he was a world-shaker. One of the jobs he gave me was to clean his files out. And there were all these letters, not that he had written to them, which anybody could do, but that they had written to him. It was pretty interesting. I was impressed by that. That wasn’t the only thing that impressed me, above and beyond the energy…. I think that I was most impressed by the energy. I was always impressed by the total vitality. He was always on; what I mean by “on” is, he wasn’t always on stage, necessarily, it wasn’t as though he was on stage most of the time, there was an incredible amount of energy flowing through him, constantly. I wasn’t really as consciously aware of that till one time I saw him absolutely let go and it was right after a really hectic day. I was hanging out around the Mentorgarten all day, everything was just a zillion miles a second. There were interviews and meetings, and counselings and letters, and classes and people being fed. I guess I got there really early in the morning, and it was around 11:30 at night. We had just finished a bath and he was on his way to bed. Wali Ali and I and Zeinob were sitting in the front room really quiet, we were really exhausted. He came out and he looked as though he were about three or four years old. And he was just so pleased with himself and happy. That was that kind of a day, and there was no force. Everything was in a state of just about abeyance, really. Vishnu, I guess, or Shiva, anyway, the power, I guess, just was not there. He was just a happy boy with a great, big, grey beard, wrapped up in a bathrobe. He smiled at us, and giggled and went off to bed. It was a totally different kind of “on.” He wasn’t in the process of being a teacher, he was in the process of being a very happy human being.
Anyway, it used to be said that sometimes the teacher will unveil himself and allow you to see the person. For most of the time that I knew Murshid, those times were so rare that those times really stand out. I guess there are a couple things, that I should say, that I guess other people might not know about.
One, I think, has to do with the trip we made to Canada to see his Uncle Harry, who was 97 years old, at the time, wouldn’t be around very long. Sam was in the process of making peace with his family, which he thought was very important, of course. He was very pleased with the fact that he was making peace with them. He was driving all the way up to Canada to see this particular relative, and somehow he felt that it was important that I know his family. I was introduced to his cousin, Mildred White, and her daughter, and we became very good friends.
We went up to see Uncle Harry. We stopped at Mount Shasta on the way up, to see Mother Mary. She was in the process of leaving the body. We weren’t able to see her; I was very disturbed by that. He really corrected me, telling me I had no idea what was really happening and that I shouldn’t take it personally. It was one of my dreams, too, to put these two people together on the physical plane.
Anyway, we went up and met, and introduced him to Helen Fetterman. We were royally welcomed at her house. Then we all took a drive the next day and made a complete circle of Crater Lake. Mansur was driving myself and Wooter, I could talk a lot about Wooter, and Murshid, then, of course, Murshid and Helen and, I think, her daughter Suzie went with us. But anyway, we circled Crater lake and you could feel the energy change. It was one of those significant points. Then, we dropped her back off again and drove up to the Sufi Center in Seattle and saw Shamcher Beorse.
It was there that Murshid made his first public announcement to any other living human being, about what he actually did during the war and the experiences that he had had. I remember, he didn’t realize that I was standing right next to him; he was sort of talking to Shamcher. He felt “God was telling me to tell you this,” and he told him about those experiences, about getting out of the body, and helping those in the concentrations camps. Where there were operative people that did that kind of work, and they would meet each other in the etheric planes, but were not permitted to meet each other on the physical plane. And the incredible suffering and his understanding of the karmic processes. He looked around and he saw me there. He said, “I didn’t know you were here!” And I said, “Murshid, you know I won’t repeat what you’ve told me." He said, "It doesn’t matter, it’s out in the ether anyway," and "It’s not something I’ve ever spoken of before." But, anyway, he started alluding to this after he came back. It was something that would crop up at meetings as a reference; it wasn’t something that I’d ever heard, specifically, before.
Anyway, we got up to see Otalim [sp?]. We stayed at this interesting lady's house who was a devotee of Inayat Khan. She seemed to see him in a totally different way than all of us. She decided that she didn’t like all of us because we were rabid Sufis instead of “la la….” and couldn’t be trusted. She had an interesting house that she thought was fully alive and conscious. She had built it and therefore, she had points on there. Murshid was trying to be pretty righteous, he wasn’t trying to put her on a trip or anything, but she was really wary of him, because he was obviously a force that she wasn’t ready to reckon with. There were a number of disciples of Inayat Khan who were present, one of which was a lady, Mrs. Dolphin, of Dolphin eye drops. She goes back to the old days, with Shamcher, and some of the older ones there. They were having a Universal Worship there and they asked if he could come up. He was introduced as the Pir-o-Murshid, Samuel Lewis. He became very disturbed. He looked at all the older people there, and I guess there were about 80% older people there. He said, "I was going to give you this speech, but looking at you now, I’m going to say the prayers, Saum, Salat and Khatum," which he did and looked at them all and said ,"It’s all in those prayers. Everything I could ever say. Some of you have been saying those prayers for 40 years and you still haven’t realized what they mean. I’m not going to say anything."
Mansur and myself, on that part of the trip, were acting pretty much like bodyguards, door-openers, fetchers. Murshid would lie down, then we’d lie down; he’d get up, we’d get up. There wasn’t anything that he told us to do, it’s just that we were really conscious of being responsible for maintaining his energy flow. I don’t think we really wanted to shift anything in terms of personal anything.
I guess this lady, Charlotte Bradshlag, whatever her name was, was asking about herbs and healing. He kicked me under the table to shut me up. Ever been shut up in the middle of the sentence and try to appear as if you’re not trying to cut somebody off? But, anyway, we got to see Uncle Harry and toured British Columbia, and he liked it up there. Every place we’d go through, like Portland, and Seattle, he’d say when he lived there and that they wouldn’t let him stay. He kept saying that all the time we knew him, saying things like, "I really liked it here, but they wouldn’t let me stay. I always wanted to live here, but they wouldn’t let me." I guess that was one of those things about Murshid. I really understood, really later, when my world started functioning, not in terms of what I wanted so much, as what I was supposed to do. I started understanding that a little bit more. Anyway, we took Wooter with us. He sat on his lap most of the time. He was my dog that Murshid adopted; if you can imagine a 140 pound dog sitting on Murshid’s lap through most of the trip, in a VW Bus, both of them very pleased with themselves. Wooter had his head out the window. I would occasionally turn around, see Murshid’s face and Murshid would laugh at him a lot and rub his ears. One day, Murshid looked at me, I guess this was after the trip, he told me he was adopting Wooter and did I mind? I said, "Of course not, I’ll give you his bag of dog food and he can move into the Mentorgarten." He says, "No,no, I want you to keep him, he’ll be my dog." I said, "Yours."
I used to show up at the Mentorgarten around 6:15, 6:30 every morning, 5 days a week. I was working as a school bus driver. I would start my run at 7:00. I was walking to work those days. We’d go through the same routine every day, "What are you up so early for? None of my disciples are up early." And I’d say, "You know Murshid, I was up early and I was on my way to work and I thought I’d stop by and see if there was anything you’d need." And he’d say, "Where’s Wooter?" And I’d say, "Wooter’s home," and he’d say "I went on a walk this morning and I missed Wooter." So I found out later, because I used to let Wooter out and he would run free, that Wooter would go down to the Mentorgarten every morning and Murshid would get donut holes from the bakery, for him, across the street, every day. Wooter was quite attached to the Mentorgarten. Anyway, that's the best Wooter story, I guess.