An Interview with Frida Waterhouse by Wali Ali Meyer and Sitara
WALI ALI: The date is Sept. 4th, 1975 and we’re going to talk about Frida’s encounters and feelings about Murshid Sam Lewis. Why don’t you begin by saying what you’ve been thinking?
FRIDA: Well, I remember that my contact came through Lois Robinson. I was blind at the time. This was early in the 70’s. Lois had met Kolsoum and Scott Brown (they had not married then), and she felt that maybe some of the Sufi disciples would help me out in exchange for some counseling. So she wrote a letter to Kolsoum who gave it to Kabira, whose name I can’t remember what it was at that time.
WALI ALI: Charlene.
FRIDA: Yes, Charlene. She called me up and came to see me. She came to see me about three times, and each time she wept very bitterly. She was telling me how you (Wali Ali) and Murshid Sam Lewis would walk by and see her crying and say, “Oh, she’s crying some more, huh?” and not go over and pat her on the head or see what was happening. I thought to myself, either they’re being very cruel or very sensible, whichever it is. So for Charlene, as far as that went, the crying went on for a while, and then I became very “cruel.” But anyhow, Charlene, who is now Kabira, went to the Murshid and said, “I’m seeing Frida Waterhouse, she’s counseling me.” And the Murshid said to her “Well, is she saying or doing anything practical?” And she said, “Yes, she gave me a diet of what I should be eating.” He said, “Fine.” And she said, “I think you two should meet.” Murshid said, “Well alright, then, bring her!” It was arranged, this was May of 1970, the first time. Kabira, as usual, was late, so we arrived just as everyone was finishing dinner. I even remember part of the menu, part of it was chicken livers and I had made a fruit gelatin for the dessert.
Murshid started to ask me some questions and I got into my real Taurean streak of stubbornness. I thought, “Well, if he’s all that great, as Kabira says he is, darn it all, he should feel me—he shouldn’t have to ask me questions. So I was fielding the questions with good old Libra indirectness, sort of coming in kind of sidewise but not answering his questions. So I could feel he was very frustrated in a way. Then he had some dessert and he liked it and asked if anyone would like some, said if any was left he would like some for breakfast in the morning. Then he goes away and leaves me at the kitchen table. I remember Kolsoum sat at the end of the table, and some male was sitting next to me.
WALI ALI: I was there.
FRIDA: Were you the one that was fielding the questions?
WALI ALI: I was there; I don’t remember it as clearly as you do.
FRIDA: Well, I have very good recall, and somebody was at the kitchen sink, and if it was you that fielded the questions, it started with some very esoteric far-out stuff, and I said, “I’m not interested in all that highfalutin’ stuff—
WALI ALI: Maybe David was there too, a crippled boy?
FRIDA: I was blind—I remember it might have been two males; there were three or four people there, so I refused to go into that whole esoteric thing. I said, “I’m a very practical person. If you want to ask me questions, let’s get down to practical things.” So that’s the way we did it. The Murshid slept either a half-hour or an hour, I’m not sure, and then he came down and said, “Well, how was it?” So I knew he was checking up on me, and I sat there in my good old Libra way and pretended that I didn’t know what it was all about. Then somebody said, “She can talk to us about anything she wants to.” He said, “Fine.”
Then we went into the meeting, and I sat on his right hand side. Of course I was very concerned about whether the Sufi teachings would correlate with my direct inner teachings or whether we were going to conflict. Because if we were going to conflict, I was in trouble. But I found that one thing after another; the Murshid was very practical that night. We talked about Brahmacharya and he did not recommend it. I remember he also talked about homosexuality, and he was very much against it. That was where we differed. Most of the time I just sat there and said, “Yes, yes.” And then he accused me, just sort of jokingly, of just being sort of a parrot. So I said, “Well you know, I’m very happy that I can do this, because I find that we are in agreement on basic principles.” I remember at one point I said, “My teachers have always said to me, “Put your money where your mouth is,” so the whole group laughed, and so forth. And out of that, believe it or not, Banefsha and Michael Gest and a few others decided—because the vibes between the Murshid and I were very balanced at that time—they thought that we would get married. They broached it to me later that this was going to be a big romance, and of course, it wasn’t anything like that sort of thing. That’s where Saul Barodofsky and I fell in love with each other. I heard his voice and it was very much like somebody I’d had a deep attachment to. That was the night he worked on my feet, and that was the night I went downstairs and stood there and sang and sort of juxtaposed my tones against your chanting and the rest. It was marvelous for me; because that was the first time I had the freedom to move around and join with the group. That went very well. Then the Murshid went to Lama for the month of June. I didn’t see him again until July 5. I was invited—it was a celebration of the…
WALI ALI: Oh I remember that (laughter).
FRIDA: I’ll give you my version of what happened. You were at the park dancing, so I’ll tell you what happened. I was invited by several of the Sufis, and we were sitting in the living room where we could see the park. Next to me was sitting Kolsoum, and this was also celebrating the birthday of Hazrat Inayat Khan. We were celebrating the whole thing. You folks had all come back from Pir Vilayat’s camp. At that time, of course between Pir Vilayat and Murshid things were sort of competitive. You (Wali Ali) were in the park leading the group doing Pir Vilayat’s dances, and here the Murshid had come back from Lama with all these new dances in his mind. Kolsoum and I were talking, I remember, the astrologer, what’s his name, Gavin Arthur, was to my left. This elderly lady who’d known him all his life…
WALI ALI: Vocha Fiske.
FRIDA: Yeah, so the Murshid walks in and bursts into a tirade. He says to Kolsoum, “You shouldn’t be wasting your time talking with guests when there are things to be done in the kitchen to prepare for them.” Now we weren’t talking nonsense; we were talking very seriously. His anger poured out at you (Wali Ali). He said, “How dare you be out there doing the Pir Vilayat’s thing when he had all these things.” So he let all that venom spill out in my direction. That was the second time I had met him, also I had my tremendous fall where I was still in real pain. I felt so ripped off, and so I did my Libra thing of going within and freezing. Finally he went out and sent word out, and things got straightened out. But for the rest of the time, as far as I was concerned, “Nuts to him!!” He felt this from me, and so we had very polite exchange just towards the end; he didn’t approach me at any time. So when I went home I said to Banefsha and Michael Gest, “I can’t work with that one. He represents everything I’m taught not to do: egotism, anger, discourtesy towards guests, the whole thing.” They begged and pleaded with me, but I was very upset about the whole thing because I’m very sensitive and that whole thing came right in on me. I’m sure he didn’t mean it for me personally; I just happened to be there. In other words, I wasn’t really the target.
WALI ALI: I know, I used to catch it enough when I wasn’t the target.
FRIDA: It was the first inkling because the other thing had been very copacetic for me. I went home, called a friend and I discussed it. Then I went into prayer that night because my training has been very strict, to I go beyond personal about hurt feelings, and even my ideas of what I’m taught and what I should be.
The next morning I woke up and this is what I heard—the Portia speech from the “Merchant of Venice.” “The quality of mercy is not strained; it falleth like a gentle rain from heaven.” So that told me immediately where I was. In other words, just bypass that whole personal thing. Then they showed me the Murshid; the comedian that he is and was not as a hypocritical thing, but they showed me without hypocrisy how he had the fluidity to blend into different groups and truly be a part of it, even if it seemed disparate from another group. That was a quality I don’t have because I’m very definitely in the redemptive Messianic thing of the Christed Path; that’s my thing. Then they showed me the quality of the soul—thereupon I said, “All right,” and then I became the Divine Mother. From that point on, no matter how uncomfortable I was at any of his machinations on the stage or any of these trips, ego or whatever, I still had that Divine Love and protective aspect. I came in from a very protected area, and that’s why I was so happy to take the load of counseling from him even though he claimed he never sent anybody.
WALI ALI: Oh I remember him.
FRIDA: I know he did because I got it. But from that point on I understood that I was his giant “garbage disposal unit,” and so I called myself. So he was free to do other things, to do the teachings of the disciplines to his disciples, and to do the peace work but not to deal so much with the garbage. I was very happy because it put me in my own milieu where my training was put to use. Actually he was the bridge to my work, everything I’d ever prepared for, so I owe him a blessing; I mean he was the one that okayed me. Without him I may never have made any inroads doing my work in this area. Maybe God would have provided somebody else, so I have a deep sense of gratitude. That’s why, despite all of my feelings about hierarchical structure and all that, I feel so close to the Order that was initiated in San Francisco. Of course, the universality of the worship makes it more comfortable for me because I find more and more I’m walking away from all rigidities and even rituals. They bore the hell out of me. That’s a nasty thing to say, but it’s true: I sit there so isolated, it’s as though a curtain were around me when we go into rituals anymore and I feel very alone and lonely when that happens; it has no meaning for me anymore. It’s just direct; I am, and that’s it. So that is the beginnings of my relationship with the Murshid.
And out of that flowes the next time that I met him; Michael Gest had been to Dr. Rice, and I too. Michael needed a mantram. The Murshid was dictating to you and I sat there watching. I’m an expert typist, and I can make a typewriter smoke, but I was absolutely awed by your (Wali Ali) ability to go on and carry sentences, because he was really ripping it off. Then there came an end to it, and he came over and we chatted a bit. In a sense I was kind of self-conscious because at that point we hadn’t re-established our relationship. We talked casually and as I left he kissed me for the first time and this was directly on the mouth. I got stoned, he got stoned, everybody else got stoned. Michael Gest once again reported that this was a love-affair, you know—and the other times we met—
WALI ALI: The interesting thing, because we’re trying to do some actual research, because Murshid’s love affairs were only in his mind. He never got too much beyond the imaginative stage with them. He badly wanted to have a partner at certain stages of his life. Then when he became entirely resigned to not having it and then when I talked to him about Frida and so forth, then he had it from God that he wasn’t supposed to get married. He was very concerned that people were pressuring him.
FRIDA: I was not even interested. I always knew what our roles were, that I was the Divine Mother representative in whatever infinitesimal way that took place. It was to lift the burden from him and at the same time come into fruition in my own work, you see. It wasn’t just a totally unselfish thing, but that’s what I’d been trained to do. That’s what my whole lifetime of service was about because I served from the age of nine, but that was in politics. I’ve never known what it is not to serve. Now that I’m away from total service any more, that’s a radical change for me. Because at this point I don’t care whether I serve or not. If I could just stay here and be, that’s it. At least that’s what I’m told. I don’t think the Murshid ever in any way, on a subjective, personal level came on to me because he was, as far as I was concerned, way past that. It had nothing to do with where he was. I understood this, and I wasn’t seeking that. It’s the romantic illusions of youth that was trying to push us into roles that had nothing to do with the reality. We would’ve been damned uncomfortable with each other. We couldn’t have stayed together a day. He would have absolutely just outraged every bit of anything that I am.
WALI ALI: I can imagine.
FRIDA: One of those rages and I would’ve been way back here frozen. If there had been enough of it, I would’ve come out of my corner and man, when I come out of my corner—watch out! It takes a long time, but what I say I mean. I’m not like other people. When I’m angry I say things I wouldn’t ordinarily say, but I mean everything I say. I’m not like some people who say things they don’t mean. That’s why I’m very careful not to get into any corners anymore or come from any such spaces because that’s not where it is. It’s too devastating for people, because when I feel and build up that kind of thing, the power is tremendous.
WALI ALI: I’m sorry I broke the flow—
FRIDA: That’s alright. Anyhow, when we would meet—for instance, we met at Sausalito just once. We met outside, he kissed me—and he always did me the courtesy. He’d come over and greet me when I was seated, and when it was finished, he’d come over and ask me how it was and then I would tell him .But he would always acknowledge my presence. That’s why I found it so difficult with Moineddin and Fatima never ever talking to me when they stood next to me in public. It wasn’t hurt feelings; it was just uncomfortable because I was working with the Sufi disciples. I remember one time Ted Reich and I came to a Sunday afternoon class. We came about four o’clock and when the dancing was over, he immediately stopped, introduced us to the group and asked us if we wanted to talk. When there was an interval before they served dinner (I remember they used to serve vegetarian dinners) we went upstairs and I remember he was watching Perry Mason and dealing his cards and talking to us simultaneously, ranting and raving. I think I was the one that brought up Krishnamurti’s name and Wow he just ripped him off. I didn’t agree with him, but I didn’t fight with him; I figured well, he’s entitled to it. However, it always bothered me because he would be so critical of other teachers. Saul would always defend him because he said that what the Murshid evaluated in a teacher was through the disciples. That’s all well and good, and if that’s your personal standard that’s fine, but what worried me and what concerned me was that this sort of ripping off of other people seems to me to be a cause and effect. But I figured what the hell, he’s a pretty advanced soul and if he wants to take that cause and effect, that’s his business, but I’m not going to argue with him. I was never comfortable when he was on the stage bragging about this one acknowledged him or that one acknowledged him. He went to such and such a place and he ripped them off and the rest, but the kids loved it. What I understood out of that very, very clearly was that that put him in a place where they felt they could relate to where they were. It wasn’t such a great chasm between his place in the Sun and his alignment with God and spirituality and them.
WALI ALI: This is an interesting point that one wants to get into. I have no intention of writing a whitewashing sort of biography; I want to present the real human being. Would you say this was bragging— the way a lot of people would see these kinds of claims. I wonder would it be possible to say these sorts of things, was it in the tone of voice that you would call it bragging? Would it be possible to say, “I was accepted, I went into Samadhi when I met Dr. Radhakrishnan,” or whatever it was, just like you say “I went into the bridal chamber with God” as a factual statement.
FRIDA: Well no, the tones of voice; but as I understood—I read this Gavin Arthur thing—as I understood it later it was only three years or whatever that he had of acceptance. That was a way of reassuring himself—he had been all these things, had been accepted by these great teachers and he had to reiterate it. No part of it, as far as I’m concerned, was bragging. That’s why I was so damned uncomfortable because I feel a fairly unerring sense from my High Self of where people come from. I’ve had no illusions since I’ve been a little child of where people are coming from. At times he didn’t brag but at times he did. But it was sort of like he was ripping off the establishment, ripping off the people who hadn’t accepted him, sort of laughing at them and the whole group laughed with him. I remember that very clearly. I that was uncomfortable because I had my rigid ideas of what a teacher should be. I realize that; so I was operating on a dichotomy with Murshid of total acceptance of the very great soul he is and was (I had no illusion about that) but the vagaries of the persona on the stage having to constantly reassure itself. But it was a marvelous modus operandi for the kids to relate to him as contrasted to that July 5th, 1970 event where four of the Sufi women disciples told me straight to my face that they resented me, that they resented the fact of where I was in my own evolution, whereas they didn’t resent the Murshid. They wanted to be where I was, and I said to them in amazement, “Blind in agony of pain from having fallen because I’m blind—all the blood, sweat and tears I went through. You envy this. You resent it.” You see, he made it viable for them, and he made it a part of where they were and what they could achieve, by in a sense boasting. I have no illusion that the total being was a part of what he was doing out there on the stage. Again he was being the comedian you see, and sharing with them all these outrageous things because he was being outrageous as far as a spiritual teacher was concerned. He was not in the sense of being pedestaled and aloof and objectified and a cooled out being—far from it! He was pulling out all the stops of this human being and the vagaries of this human brain and demonstrating it. But that was the persona on the stage, and I don’t confuse this persona on the stage with the total human being that God created.
SITARA: What do you mean by vagaries?
FRIDA: The differences of the opposites. The things that are opposite. One thing is in one direction and one in another. I could look it up in the dictionary. Yes, vagaries mean differences, contradictions—and they may not always be contradictory, but at the time you play one role and then another, it may contradict another but not necessarily.
WALI ALI: Do you think some of that was conscious teaching, an attempt at…
FRIDA: I feel that it was in a sense an intuitive and highly directive way of really relating to those who were really stumbling and trying to find their way. A lot of kids were still in great pain; a lot of them who were into drugs or pulling out of it. Far more so than today. That was really heavy. A lot of them were pulling in from psychedelics; there was a great deal of acid then. No, I think that was deliberately and consciously done, and that he was like an actor on the stage at times, playing and clowning, at times very seriously. At other times, of course when he was very angry with you about the dancing, that was real man!
WALI ALI: Well I know—
FRIDA: That was coming from a space of where he hadn’t really resolved the thing. It was after that that he resolved his relationship with Pir Vilayat, after July 5, 1970. The thing went sort of sixes and sevens, and this thing regarding his lady, Jemila, came up and finally the Murshid accepted it. For a while he didn’t accept that situation, as I recall, until Pir Vilayat came, as I understand it, (of course this is through a second party) and explained how he really felt about her.
WALI ALI: That really broke him down, I have to say, when Pir Vilayat came to him and opened up his heart to him, then he really felt something like a father to Pir Vilayat and opened up.
FRIDA: That’s when the competition stopped; but it was real—I remember the disciples coming back from the two different camps very uptight about allegiance to Pir Vilayat and to the Murshid and where it stood. I was part of the focus of working through some of that and trying to be very neutral and simply objectify.
SITARA: Your memory is that it was over the Pir Vilayat dances that he—
WALI ALI: Yes, well, I know some more of the background of it, but I mean what she says is accurate. There was a misunderstanding on several levels.
FRIDA: Murshid felt that Pir Vilayat’s camp in a sense infringed on his disciples. Remember he’d come into this thing very late for his work—a whole lifetime of agony. It was almost like the symbolical three years of Jesus. I see it in a sense symbolical that he got to express before he was taken off the stage.
Now let’s see. One other time we met at his house. We had been at this Arabic, Jewish and Christian thing at the House of Love and Prayer, and on the way back Iqbal said to me, “Murshid said, if anyone wants to know their Dharma, see Frida.” I said, “Huh?” And he said, “Yes!” I asked, “What the heck does Dharma mean?” So he went on to tell. “Well,” I thought, “I wish he’d tell me these things,” because I didn’t know I could and did. That was one instance.
One other time—I had heard about his talks at the Holy Order of Mans. I was interested in going, so Iqbal offered to take me the next Saturday. Iqbal picked me up and then went to pick up the Murshid. Then at the Holy Order of Mans this was told that when the Murshid heard I was in the car he expressed great joy because I went over very rarely to the Sufi places. I didn’t feel that I should be butting in to his thing at all.
WALI ALI: I think there was a great harmony because you respected that place.
FRIDA: Now I remember that the first thing that the Murshid asked me at our first meeting after dinner when he came downstairs was, “Do you want disciples?” and I said, “No. All that that I was interested in was putting the torches in the hands of people, opening the doors and letting them run through—I don’t want to chase after them”. I never had wanted disciples, you know that. I don’t want the responsibility, I didn’t want that whole hassle, the whole hang-up thing. That was part and parcel of his work and it was right for him, but for myself it would have been totally an ego trip and nothing that I was supposed to do. We got that settled right off the bat that we were not going to vie for disciples, and I wasn’t going to rip him off. Once we understood that then we could start off on a friendship basis. When we got to the Holy Order of Mans one of the things I heard him say was (I think I mentioned it later) that three very special people have come and are coming to my house today, a woman who is here, and I was blind at the time, but I was feeling around to find out who was he talking about—24 hours later it dawned on me he meant me—and that was interesting because as a rule he never said anything to my face.
WALI ALI: He didn’t generally compliment anybody to their face.
FRIDA: But what he said behind my back was very beautiful and I got it. That was very interesting. Of course, Christmas Eve was the last time I saw him alive. It was at Amin and Amina’s place and he insisted on my taking his seat, and he sat next to me. Again this romantic rumor started.
I could feel people—one of the basic things he said to me, and I’ll always remember it—he said, “Frida, I’m not getting the help I need, it’s such a struggle.” That’s the equivalent of what I remember. I said, “Sam, that is par the course. There are a few who do the work and the rest are riding on their coattails; so I’m not surprised that you’re telling me this. That has always been so.” Then he went on to tell me he wasn’t feeling well, that he needed the help and the rest. Then we went on to other things and we sang and all. That was the last that I remember at the conscious level.
WALI ALI: You were out on the Avenues?
FRIDA: Yes, at 40th and Anza.
WALI ALI: Did you visit him in the hospital?
FRIDA: Yes, that’s the last time I saw him alive. He was unconscious at the time. This was New Year’s Eve, the afternoon of New Year’s Eve. You were there, and I think Michael Gest had taken me there. We waited for the doctors to get through and then we went in. He was unconscious the whole time I was there. The ward was unbelievable, the screaming and the yelling. The nurse came in to give the Murshid a shot and he screamed, but he never used any four letter words. He kept on calling for “Allah, Allah!” Now ordinarily, as sensitized as I’ve been, as much as I hate hospitals, with all those treatments going on and patients screaming with pain, I would have been ripped off and absolutely climbing walls, but I sat there in total peace. The area around the Murshid was so surrounded by the Divine Beings that I sat there undisturbed by his screaming a few times, by his evident pain at times. I was there one or two hours, I’ve forgotten, and I’d gone home and it was still with me. I was abiding in that peace clear through New Year’s Eve and I went to bed in total peace, total balance, which still blows my mind. Everything said, “Frida, freak out; this is terrible, this man’s in agony, this is a hellhole here, and he must be affected.” But he was so protected, it was unbelievable.
Then the night he died, I was taken to see him. We were there an hour or two. It was very interesting. We brought candles and incense and flowers and they took me to stand by him; I could smell the corruption of flesh. It was very subtle, but apparently I brought in the memory of it. Nobody else got it, and probably it wasn’t on the outer plane, but I wasn’t offended or shocked by it. But again the atmosphere around him was so Holy. It was so peaceful.
SITARA: What do you mean you brought in the memory of it?
FRIDA: I must have known, because in this lifetime I’ve never smelled death.
SITARA: I must interject, when we were in New York, I got that smell from him, and I don’t think it was flesh, and I never smelled it before.
FRIDA: No, it was from another plane and I recognized that. We stayed and we sang and it was very comfortable there.
WALI ALI: That was in the morgue?
FRIDA: In the morgue, we were in the morgue the night he died. They kept watch, I don’t remember how long—
WALI ALI: Oh yes, I remember it—It was that whole business with the autopsy—
FRIDA: Yes, and then I was taken home and then another relay took over. They did it in relays just like they did watching his bed at the hospital. As you remember, I was quite shocked by the fact that he was going to die because I was euchred into believing that he wasn’t going to.
WALI ALI: Because then also we were at the mercy of the hospital, and then how much are you going to let them do their—they were going to do exploratory brain surgery.
FRIDA: Remember that night in Sausalito you asked me to channel on that?
WALI ALI: Yes.
FRIDA: My reality on that was that was a very heavy thing for me to be responsible for channeling whether they should or shouldn’t do the exploratory. You were going to have a meeting at the Garden of Allah as to whether or not you were going to do that. I don’t know if you remember that you took me away. Do you know what that brought to mind? That when you enter the bridal chamber of the Most High, you don’t go into sexual ecstasy. It brings upon you very heavy responsibility in the specific kinds of work you do. That to me was part of the responsibility of having gone into the bridal chamber. Of me having to channel such a heavy thing and that was a real heavy responsibility. When you asked me to do this, you mentioned that to me later on when you picked me up. I went into prayer on that and that’s what I was told.
WALI ALI: I have this question to ask before I go into rehashing anything else. Staying in the same chronological line, did you have any experiences after his passing where he came and manifested?
FRIDA: Yes. A few months later I went through a very heavy change that had to do with a physical effect, and actually had to do with the third eye. It was just like flashing a light, but I was very nauseated and felt quite ill. I was sort of discombobulated, and I saw the Murshid standing in the room pointing his finger at me and dancing around saying, “Bodhisattva, bodhisattva, bodhisattva.” I didn’t know what that meant at that time and I thought, “Am I nuts, or what?” But his being there, his pointing his finger at me, and his joyous dancing and so on relieved the situation for me and comforted and reassured me. I picked him up, you know, sort of on the inner, and we had quite a strong connection for a while, but that broke later on. I felt his presence at times, not so much with myself after that, but when working with the disciples. Sometimes when I was channeling, I would see him, but after a time that stopped. I think that’s about the essence of that.
Getting back to this thing, this channeling that I got that he was going to make it. When Helen Fetterman and Ray Fetterman came to town, it was shortly after the Urs, I believe. I was very upset about the fact that I had brought this through and it wasn’t accurate, because that usually isn’t the experience. What Helen said and what she got very clearly and I was to be very comforted was that the Murshid had made a choice. He could have stayed and worked further with the disciples because he did have moments of absolute lucidity and speaking in the hospital. (I know Joe Miller reported that at the time he dictated the letter.)
Or he could go on into his higher work, and that he lingered until he made this choice. But that he had a much greater work awaiting him. While he still directed the disciples from the inner, he had other work to do. So that was her validity about why my channeling wasn’t that far out—that it could have happened, if he had chosen it, but I don’t know. But it really shook me up as an instrument, believe me! The one I got on Moineddin recently, that he would make it by the “skin of his teeth” was accurate. Do you remember that? I called up and said, “Don’t bother the Murshid because I know he’s very busy and very worried about Moineddin.” I believe I said that to you, and what you heard back was Murshid said, “You know, people are calling us up and bothering us all concerned and worried about how Moineddin is. This channel (or whatever he called me) called up, and she gave the good news that he’s going to make it by the “skin of his teeth.” She didn’t even bother me or interrupt me. Isn’t that wonderful? Or something like that. That’s the feedback that I got and that I think basically is it. Unless you have questions?
WALI ALI: I think I have a few questions. Taking an overview now, and looking from let’s say a “soul level” how would you evaluate his being?
FRIDA: I’ll have to add to that from sort of an outside thing. I was working with three different channels, two were young men, and one was my friend, Mary Stitch, very much on the spiritual path. And one of these channels, who’s quite accurate, went into a channeling about both Pir Vilayat and Murshid Samuel Lewis and confirmed for me my reality about them, that they were pretty advanced souls. Very much higher—for instance the Murshid—than you would think from the rejections he had and the projections he made on the stage. A very high being. Pir Vilayat was in a sense—it’s a difficult thing to say—I don’t say more advanced, but he was in a different area. Pir Vilayat for me has always been the Archangelic host, the whole angelic being thing. More of the fiery angels in a sense, but one who would never care to relate to his body—always wanted to be out of it. The Murshid was really balanced that way; he wasn’t trying to get out of his body. In fact, that was one of the things he said at the July 5th party. I had told him that I had fallen and injured myself because I had wanted Saul to do a healing on me and he had already gone. The Murshid said, “I have never gone out of my body.” I felt that was valid. I don’t do it anymore. I operate very fully in my body and I don’t need an escape hatch. Now Pir Vilayat to me is an escape hatch guy that denies his body. I think with me that it’s no great big deal. The thing is I was not permitted to get out of my body because I know darned well I wouldn’t come back. The Murshid, you see, was operative both ways. In my books he was a very high cat.
WALI ALI: You you quoted a remark of Saul’s which was certainly something Murshid repeated many times, that Murshid wanted to be judged on the basis of his disciples, and not on the basis of any claims that he may have made. Do you have anything you can say other than that?
FRIDA: I felt that his comment and criticism of Krishnamurti wasn’t valid because Krishnamurti worked in an entirely different way. Those that got anything from Krishnamurti were not the intellectuals, because Krishnamurti says things on the inner, and if you don’t get it there, then it remains an intellectual verity. He was, and still is, bugged by a lot of intellectuals as Manly Palmer Hall is.
WALI ALI: I’m not saying in relation to Krishnamurti or Manly Palmer Hall. What would you say in relation to his own success or lack of success with disciples?
FRIDA: I feel that he made a remarkable projection of his teachings and what he stood for in the few years he had. The fact that the thing is cohesive, stayed together, I think, speaks for itself. Joe Miller, Ted Reich and I were most concerned after his death as to whether this would be a cohesive thing, that if what he built was permanent, you see. The fact that it was permanent, is still growing, is healthy, speaks for itself. That to me is the proof of the pudding. I don’t “judge” by the vagaries, the fact that there is so much competitiveness among the disciples because it’s in every group. This business of people vying with each other as to who’s higher and who’s lower and who gets more attention from the teacher and the rest, the whole hierarchical as far as I’m concerned, is not my cup of tea at all. I walk away from all of that. It causes, as far as I’m concerned, a great deal of schism and cataclysm between and among the disciples, but I honor it as a disciplinary measure. The fact that he went in for primarily the Sufic thing, even though he is and was (I can’t just put it in the past tense) what he did exists, even though he had numerous initiations from other groups and therefore, the universality of Hazrat Inayat Khan was concomitant with this.
SITARA: Do you know where the Murshid stood in regard to it or what it means…. [inaudible].
WALI ALI: I don’t know what it is either.
FRIDA: Well obviously from an outsider’s point of view, not so much outside bystanders—it has to do with a disciplinary thing. Some groups don’t have hierarchical structures like Sheikhs and all that sort of thing and there’s much I can say about that, but one of the comments I will make, which you can take off the record as far as I’m concerned, is that it’s apparent to me that Pir Vilayat going around making Sheikhs and Sheikhas or whatever you call the feminine aspects (even the Murshid did this as far as I’m concerned) like with Banefsha, is that he gave titles that they really were forced to grow into.
WALI ALI: Well, Murshid didn’t make Banefsha a Sheikha, Pir Vilayat did.
FRIDA: No, but what the Murshid did was to set her up in the “Hallelujah, the Three Rings” and Michael also and Iqbal also. What he set was a goal, whether it was a title or a goal, that was far beyond their capacities and still is. But they’re forced into those roles, they’re forced into growing. So in a sense you almost dynamite them into being what they’re not.
WALI ALI: I wonder if his dying isn’t also something of the same thing? To force people to grow up in a certain way.
FRIDA: Well, they do take over. You, Wali Ali, took over many responsibilities that you were groomed for and it really made many great changes in you.
WALI ALI: A lot of other people besides—
FRIDA: Oh—Moineddin and Fatima, everybody—it affected the whole group because they had to reassess their idol-worship.
WALI ALI: You know, it’s a curious thing, because Murshid used to always say, “One thing I don’t want to be is put up on a pedestal, and made into a little tin God or whatever.”
FRIDA: But they’ve done it—
WALI ALI: And after his death there is a certain mythologizing process that sets in. As Fatima said at the time when he would say that, she would laugh to herself, “How could anybody possibly put him up, and worship him because he had obviously so many human faults that were very obvious to anybody who know him incidentally.”
FRIDA: What fascinates me about the Murshid (I’ll get back to the hierarchy in a moment); now he was Libra right?
WALI ALI: Sun was Libra.
FRIDA: What was his rising sign?
WALI ALI: Virgo.
FRIDA: And what was his moon?
WALI ALI: I’d have to look it up.
FRIDA: Oh well, now Libra ordinarily has a marvelous way of getting along with people. They’re tactful, Venusian; they have a need to love and give love. Here we have a cantankerous man—according to Gavin Arthur.
WALI ALI: Well, of course, Gavin Arthur had a certain perspective and you know that was very personal. I don’t think that it was illegitimate to say that.
FRIDA: No, I think he was at times a prickly pear. Let’s put it that way. Not ordinarily the Libra way, but I’m watching another Libra, and I won’t name names, a lady, and she is a Sufi disciple, and she’s unable to really express love. But the Murshid really could. He expressed love very clearly, even behind his back and his bite was the love. But it was extraordinary that he would be that prickly. So that means that life itself was so difficult. It reminded me of some people I have met who are very tender and loving and vulnerable inside, that become (what’s that animal that shoots its barbs?) porcupine—I’ve met porcupines, and usually they’re the very tender, vulnerable ones. They are so easily damaged and hurt that they set up the barriers, so that’s the thing.
WALI ALI: If you know anything about his early life, he was very much that sort of a child. Very sensitive, very open, vulnerable, and this continued for some time until—it was an interesting thing to look at because he had several different lives—dramatically different lives—in this lifetime.
FRIDA: I can understand that, because so have I.
WALI ALI: So I think he really started out as a Libra type, but on the way it changed. He always used to read the horoscope in the newspaper for Virgo.
FRIDA: He had many Virgo traits—his precise way of taking care of things, of business. He was very demanding that things be done certain ways. He had the Virgo trait of working with details too.
WALI ALI: Working in the earth too.
FRIDA: Yes, very much so.
FRIDA: The hierarchical thing as far as I am concerned could only be a modus operandi, modus vivendi of getting structure and discipline, because most of the people you deal with in the counter culture, in fact almost all of them are rebels. What they need is self-discipline and until they will impose it upon themselves, they will have to have other disciplines—and that’s one means of doing it.
WALI ALI: My understanding is that it’s the pattern of the way the real world is and the inner world is. That there is a hierarchy you might call it, in the powers subservient to God right on down the line. It is a human attempt with all of human flaws to reflect the Divine Order.
FRIDA: The corporate thing I see—the President, the Board of Directors and the rest of the various corporate managers, the heads of the various departments and so on down.
WALI ALI: Do you have any insights on what you mentioned in passing—the sexual side of Murshid’s being? Did you sense any frustration in that area? Or did you find that that energy had been transmuted entirely and taken upstairs?
FRIDA: My reality, the little he talked about it, he talked about Brahmacharya on the first night I met him. As he tried to talk about it and suggested that people don’t try to force themselves into that context, my reality was that he was totally there and released there. That’s why I didn’t feel any (and I would have picked it up) frustrated sexual energy. It wasn’t bottled up, because I’m extremely sensitive to that—I pick it up from people who come here as though it were my own. You know, I release it when they go.
WALI ALI: I wanted to get your flat statement, because this is what I think too. And that’s very extraordinary if you look at the spiritual teachers around because most of them have some—as you well know.
FRIDA: They’re not suppressing it that much. That’s my complaint. Whether they’re healers or teachers, they’re not suppressing it that much. That’s what I’m worried about—I’ve changed my whole attitude about it. I was going to go to Boston to raise hell with healers, teachers, etc.—but now I feel that if the feminine principle in women is so blocked off, if they’re so stupid as to go to bed with anybody that invites them—then they’re doing it from, I feel, a place of cupidity. It’s because they feel that going to bed with this person, whether it’s a healer or teacher, is going to give them benefit. If it’s a teacher and he’s high enough, then they’re going to get into heaven faster; they’ll go up that ladder—whoosh! Then when it doesn’t happen that way and they wake up one morning and find out that the guy had released and pleasured himself, and they hadn’t really moved up the ladder, then they come here and scream about rip-off. I’ve gotten to the place where I feel, “Nuts to the whole thing.” I’m going to do a chapter about that in my book.
WALI ALI: Good for you. You know it’s like Barbara Durkee (Asha) and I were talking—she said, “I’d really like to get some of these guys and take it up really frankly, what do you get out of sleeping with your disciples?”
FRIDA: I’ll tell you what they get out of it, as far as I’m concerned, their own cause and effect. I’m not going to worry about that because if somebody comes here with a rip-off and they are really valid, I just turn it over to the Lords of Karma. Anybody that rips me off now, I don’t bother with it, I put it in the hands of the Lords of Karma. I say this is the cause; this is the debt; now if you want to collect on it fine, but I don’t want to have anything more to do with it. I refuse to go into this thing. Of course, I’m not going to be in line for another rip-off, I can promise you that, but I don’t go into a whole anger or feeling of hurt. I say to the Lords of Karma, “Now here it is, and you do what you want with it. If that’s their cause and effect, and they need a lesson, that’s up to you, I’m not going to decide that much.”
WALI ALI: Let me go back just a minute—
FRIDA: I just want to say this, that the highest of your hierarchical Sufis are in it too—that sex thing. OK? And it’s bruited around town—
SITARA: The only thing I would like to add here is that Murshid kind of started that ball rolling, by telling me and everyone else that he spoke to—well, first he told me to do whatever this man said, and with other people he spoke so strongly in favor of this person that he was the Black Christ—
FRIDA: But he never knew what this person was really into?
SITARA: No, he never knew. The thing that concerns me is that all this has been set in motion because of ones that spoke in trust that is placed in him.
FRIDA: I know—but you see, he was taken advantage of because if this person had been honest in what he was doing, the Murshid would have reared up on his hind legs. The Murshid, in no way, in any of the kissing he did, around me with the young ladies, and any of the touching that he did, it was sacred. I would feel this because I know the moment somebody is aberrant sexually because of my trauma in early life and I can smell one of the real dirty old men a mile away. I used to be able to do this as a young girl. We went to the theatre one day and I was sitting on the aisle and my friend was fourth over. I picked up that the man was molesting or trying to molest her over there, so I sent word for her to trade places with me, I got in there and sat down and I said, “You get the hell out of here,” and he did, he ran. That’s my protective instinct after rape.
WALI ALI: That’s a point of Murshid’s characters or personality that is often missed because he had a certain innocent streak and naiveté or looking sometimes at the best part of somebody just as he would sometimes criticize people. He would sometimes see the best in some people that you could see; obviously it was not there at all. It’s an interesting thing to realize that he had that side too.
FRIDA: Well, I was invited to go to Bridgeport with all my expenses paid, and I refused to go because it would be this healer’s center. I said this; it wasn’t so much that I was sitting in the judgment seat, but I didn’t want to be connected in any way by adding any validity to what he does. That was the point. Because that would have been a tremendous karmic responsibility. Now what you do in innocence and naiveté is excusable under the Law, but you do not go when you know. I’ve never been re-invited.
WALI ALI: I have one other question for you, Frida, and that is—what did you see, I know that Murshid spent the greater part of the last year concentrating on the sphere of trying to bring peace in the world around him, in the role of peacemaker. Do you have any insight into that aspect of his work?
FRIDA: From what I was shown that morning when I awakened, my reality was that the Murshid’s work, not so much on the outer, letter writing, and the rest, but his work on the inner was powerful and that’s what he should be freed for. That’s why he should be freed from a lot of outside things that I could do. In other words, he would be far more effective as an instrument working from the inner, because it has to be as above, so below. I was even told within the last six months or so that I would become a point of peace. And it doesn’t matter whether I do any outer work. So what I’m working now is trying to get rid of anything that enturbulates me so that I can be that. Not so much on a conscious level, but so that I can abide in that place. But my role at that time wasn’t anywhere near what his role was. I have a deep and abiding feeling that that’s what he’s doing on the inner. That the work with the disciples is only one aspect that may be important to the disciples, but I feel as far as the earth plane and its continuum is concerned, that on the inner plane he is the greater influence than he was on the earth plane because now he’s free and clear.
WALI ALI: Well this is what he said to me, “The reason I’m so concerned with having all this time working with disciples, is in the first place I never thought it was my role in life to be a teacher, I got it by default, but I’m afraid that I’m devoting so much of my energies here that if I’m called to do my real work….”
FRIDA: Well, that is his real work and that’s why I think he chose to go. That's my reality. I came to terms with the channeling I got—in contrast to what happened to him—where I could feel secure again to work as a channel.
WALI ALI: Well thank you very much.
FRIDA: You’re so welcome.