Bismillah Arrahman Arraheem
February 12, 1976
Your letter came as a most welcome opportunity to communicate some of my feelings about Murshid, at a time when he has been surfacing a great deal into my consciousness, as he does from time to time in answer to different needs or different occasions. Ever since I left California shortly after my initiation (February 1971), I've been drawn to stay in the east side of the country and to follow Pir Vilayat; this has culminated in my coming to the Abode, where my commitment to and understanding of the Sufi Message and the being of Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan has broadened. From my viewpoint, Murshid S.A.M. was the most inspiring example of a being who lived the Message. He really embodied and imparted those teachings of the different religions and traditions and carried the message in his being all the way around the world, from the West Coast to the Far East. This is set forth more extensively and beautifully in the "Afterword" to the Garden of Murshid book, which was a joy to read. His sense of prophetic mission, his realization of the fatherhood-motherhood of God, these aspects of Murshid's being have inspired and sustained me time and time again; more recently, I've begun to get a sense of what it must have meant to have faithfully served the message of Inayat Khan, yet at the same time gone about the business of living it. Murshid's writings are full of heart-ravishing compassion, mind-blowing ecstasy; they continue to teach me, and to remind me of the ideal which I hope to realize more in my life—yet it is difficult for me to praise or promote him, as
I knew him such a very short time, and I so easily get off the track and caught up into concepts. Yet I do feel so much of his inspiration, especially in my attempts to "unite intellectual and spiritual" as I read that Inayat Khan once told Murshid to do, and in my aspiration to see both fatherhood and motherhood aspects of God.
The personal side of my encounter with Murshid is, regrettably, short: I first heard about "Sufi Sam" from Gavin Arthur and his friends, who were my neighbors at one time. But it wasn't until late 1970 when I returned from traveling in India and Afghanistan that I became a serious spiritual seeker (or "shopper") and went Sufi dancing for the first time. I'd had a hard time in the Muslim countries and I was rather put-off by the chanting of ALLAH; later on I re-member thinking that it was only because Murshid was Jewish that I could trust him, since I was so suspicious of Islam. However I was totally turned-on by a Halleluiah, The Three Rings festival; I felt attracted to a group that cared about more than personal "spiritual attainment." After a few months of hanging out, I moved to a Sufi house and began the whirling ecstasy of Sufi activities. One Sunday afternoon I felt the power of ISHQ manifesting in the room and I knew that it emanated from Murshid, even though he was not present in the room the whole time. I felt as "high" as if I were on a psychedelic trip; I could only compare this intense feeling to a drug experience, but I knew that the feeling that stoned me was a form of "love" and that it came from this being, Murshid Sam. Nothing else seemed to matter; my political feelings about Islam and Hinduism, my attraction to yoga and asceticism which Murshid didn't promote, my feeling unable to communicate with the disciples (I had found Murshid's disciples, as a group, reserved; I appreciated this, yet felt frustrated by my inability to understand and participate in what I felt was happening around him and them.) I knew at that point that I wanted to be an initiate but was afraid to ask, since I felt I hadn't known Murshid long enough; I felt a very powerful and quite impersonal connection with the disciples, which I thought was part of this "love-force" coming from Murshid, and I thought that whether or not I developed friendships with any of them, I was somehow related to them all. And, I thought, my connection with Murshid and the order would manifest "sooner or later" (there was plenty of time; Murshid would live at least to the age of 84.)
Shortly after this experience Murshid gave group Darshan in Sausalito; I was given Darshan although I had absolutely no idea what it was or what was happening. After the Darshan was finished I was standing around in the crowd feeling heavy and stupid, and Murshid came up to me and asked what he could do for me. This was my opportunity to ask for Bayat, but I felt too insecure and just mumbled something.
Murshid smiled and said he wanted to help everyone he could and gave me a wonderful hug. This incident was so significant to me in retrospect, when I regretted so much my lack of initiative. (My strongest general impression in my early days of attending dance classes with Murshid was of a need to take initiative as soon as one became involved with Murshid; this was exceedingly difficult for me.) In spite of a feeling of personal failure I felt that Murshid had in some way accepted me as a friend or follower or something; if I was not his disciple at least I felt like a candidate for initiation. At his passing I felt that I learned a lesson in the meaning of death which was to stand by me when I attended my mother in her last illness. As I meditated near his body I experienced the fragility of the veil between life and death; there was a feeling of peace—and at his funeral, ecstasy. Thanks to the guidance of Wali All I was allowed to be initiated by Moineddin shortly after the funeral service, along with other disciples whom Murshid was to have initiated the day after his "accident." If this had not occurred I may not have been initiated in California at all, because I left San Francisco to stay with my mother before the next group initiation took place.
My life on the East Coast began gradually to change my orientation and I experienced a personal resurrection with Pir Vilayat in Mendocino and in Chamonix; I never returned to California, but throughout the dark period of time before and after the death of my mother, I clearly felt Murshid's guidance, especially when working in my garden. I would go to sleep at night seeing the earth running through my fingers and Murshid's face would be in the earth. In a dream he advised me to read the biography of Milarepa. It took me some time to get the book and even longer to read it, but the lesson was clear; I saw the parallels between my own difficulties with my family, and the story consoled and inspired me.
Last year while living in Woodstock I received a beautiful vision which I felt came directly from him. I'm enclosing my attempt to record and explain it. I feel somehow that my connection with Murshid is living but often latent. I know people who have studied with Murshid for as short a time as I yet have really caught his transmission in dance and walk, which I never was able to do. Still the prophetic spirit of his being and work stays and grows within one in all events, time and places. Some time ago I met a friend of Murshid in India, Fayazuddin Nizami, who described an American disciple of Hazrat Inayat Khan, Mr. Louis Murad, as "a Christian who embraced Islam." Intrigued by the name yet bewildered by the description, I showed Mr. Fayazuddin a picture of Murshid which he did not recognize, as he had known Murshid as a younger, beardless, man. Then Fayazuddin related that Mr. Louis Murad had arrived in Hyderabad just after the "police action," (in which the Nizam of Hyderabad was deposed by the Indian ((Hindu)) Army) and that the Muslims there were in very poor spirit, so much so that they neglected their holy places. So this Mr. Murad took it upon himself to sweep and clean all the mosques in Hyderabad starting with Jama Masjid, an enormous place. After ten days, working all by himself, he finished cleaning it completely. As soon as I heard this story I had no doubt that Mr. Louis Murad was indeed the same Murshid S.A.M. I knew.
Even while writing this letter live felt the power of Murshid's blessing revitalizing itself in me. I feel that as my affinity with Pir-o-Murshid's being deepens and expands, my connection with Murshid reemerges and reintegrates itself with my Sufi experience here in New York, away from the direct influence of the atmosphere of his being which permeates the San Francisco area centers. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to write this; sorry it's been long in coming.
ONE WORD WILL WORK
Father mother daughter son
ALLAH alone ALLAH all one
WORK WILL WORD ONE
ALLAH ALLAH ALLAH
There is nothing except ALLAH
ALLAH is love, beloved one
In and out Up and down
"Oh, Maid of Gold
Make of the Knight of Space
A King of Light
That you may be Queen of Hearts
Then all may be perfect
As ALLAH is perfect."
* * * * * *
"This is not my body; this is the temple of god."
"This is not my heart; this is the altar of god."
"This is not my mind; this is the breath (breadth) of god."
(LOGOS: a principle of measurement, measuring the immeasurable)
"This is not my emotion; this is the love of god."
(EROS: life-force, personalizing the impersonal)
Consider the mystery of the union of logos and eros:
Principles of quantification and qualification,
Raised beyond quantity and quality, are not different or separate.
* * * * * *
"God is one eternal, begets not, nor is begotten,
and there is no one like unot the ONE."
"And the word was made flesh and dwelt among us."
God is One God is Love
La ilaha ill' Allahu Ishq Allah Ma'abud L'llah
ALLAH alone ALLAH all-one
Unity One Union
* * * * * *
"If there were a court where love could rule
where life could serve
where light could lead
where liberty could follow…."
The universal court is found within; it's always open to those who long for its atmosphere. You must bring the body, heart, mind and emotions to present as an offering there. And then you will be free to love.
* * * * * *
Courtly characters, correspondences and attributions:
King of Light (fire-wands-clubs) father ONE, ETERNAL
Queen of Hearts (water-cups-hearts) mother LOVE, BELOVED
Knight of Space (air-swords-spades) son UNLIMITED, INFINITE
Maid of Gold(earth-pentacles-diamonds) daughter IMPERSONAL, UNIVERSAL
The KING is sage or savior, prophet or liberator, personifies beneficence, rules realm of god-realization.
The QUEEN is mediatrice or inspiratrice, healer or peacemaker, personifies compassion, rules realm of religion.
The KNIGHT is magician or alchemist, yogi or monk, personifies logos, serves realm of self-mastery.
The MAID is servant or shakti, witch or dakini, personifies eros, serves realm of life-energy.
* * * * * *
Traditionally four is a good workable number for setting up a system of types, but variety is infinite. Each suit (element) has its four characters: there are sixteen basic courtly personalities in all. A king is "in his own element" in light (fire) as a queen is in the element of hearts (water), the knight in space (air) and the maid in gold (earth).
Each of us is all four, and more. We can see these personalities manifesting in ourselves and in others. Some of them may be manifesting in secret, hidden deep within ourselves; others may manifest through our relations with other people. One can always find all within, or all without; the observation of courtly archetypes operating in ourselves and others can be an interesting kind of psychological analysis. And we can try to bow to the King/Queen in him/her/one self and reward the Knight/Maid in him/her/oneself enacting our lives as a courtly dance.
a mandala-inspired by
Murshid S.A.M. Lewis Chisti