The Lotus and the Universe


Murshid Samuel L. Lewis

(Sufi Ahmed Murad Chisti)




Table of Contents



          1. The Lotus and

          2. The Problem of Evil

          3. The Real Yogi Meets the Real Commissar

          4. Papa and Mataji

          5. Vedanta Today

          6. The Flute of Krishna

          7. Vedantic Christianity

          8. Beyond Paul Brunton—The Return of Lord Buddha

          9. In Search of Satori

          10. Zen Is Meditation

          11. Learning Zen From Zen Teachers

          12. Zen and Chan in Contemporary America

          13. Sufis: The Lotus People of Islam

          14. Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan

          15. In Search of Sufis

          16. Cosmic Consciousness

          17. Shrines and Saints

          18. Contemporary Sufis and Sufism

          19. Shangri-la

          20. Peace





Samuel L. Lewis represented in his being many traditions of spiritual realization. Just how vast his scope was is only now being appreciated in the land of his birth. For years he faced rejection in America and complete acceptance in Asia. At the time when The Lotus and the Universe was written (1963), he was virtually unknown here. Yet, in the seven years which followed until his death on January 15, 1971, at the age of 74, a tremendous flowering took place. He built a large family of loving disciples; he inaugurated the Sufi Dance and the Sufi Choir; he set into motion a full-fledged concentration of programs for peace in the Middle East; and much more.

The movie Sunseed is dedicated to him and features his life, love and eternal laughter. His prophetic writings and diaries are just now beginning to be published. They give a clear insight into the functioning of the Spiritual Hierarchy on earth.

He was extraordinarily effective in passing his spiritual transmission on to his students. In his lectures on mystical Christianity published by Omen Press under the name This is the New Age, in Person, he speaks about this: “Although I’ve been saying ‘I am the vine and ye are the branches thereof,’ my experience has been much like the Bo tree. You take a branch of the Bo tree, plant it in the ground, and you have a bunch of Bo trees growing up around. Some of these other Bo trees become bigger than the parent one. And why not? So, I looked and I found myself a forest. I found I was no longer a tree, but I was a forest, and if a stranger came he wouldn’t even know which was the original tree.”

A man once came to Murshid’s door. “I have heard of you and have come several thousand miles to ask you this question. What is the difference between Sufism, Vedanta, and Zen?” “Get out of my house!” “But I’m serious, I’ve come all this distance to get an answer.” “The door!” “But can’t you at least tell me something?” “If you come here seeking differences and distinctions, all I can do is show you the door. Now, if you go and follow any one of those paths for six months, then I will answer your question.” The story had a happy ending. Six months later Murshid met the man on the street; he had been practicing Zen and he understood how his question had already been answered.

The Lotus and the Universe is the experience of a man who followed all these paths for his whole life.

Wali All Meyer





Beloved Ones of God:

This work is an effort to bring people of good-will closer together in understanding, and especially to bring those of the Asian continent closer to those of other continents. It has been stimulated as a response to a number of books about the Orient, often written by those who have little acquaintance with the knowledge or peoples they use as subject matter.

Today, one can affirm that, while a scientist may require two hundred trials before coming to any conclusion, many non-scientists can reach two hundred conclusions from a single event. This reveals egocentricity.

We are besieged by multitudes of books in which the word “Zen” appears in the title without authorization. The Anti-Defamation League of the Jewish people has been quite successful in preventing such occurrences within their realm. The actual Zen Buddhists have almost been lost in the shuffle and fanfare of self-proclaimed “experts” who write books and give lectures.

The Oriental, not being a dualist, faces this world as it is. True, there are some excellent books being written by the real Zen masters, but their readers are few when contrasted with the total readers of current literature.

Many who write about the Orient seem to have moral integrity without having an understanding of esotericism and mysticism, though this cannot be said of all the writers. Much misunderstanding also results from emotional prejudices which are based on lack of real historical background, as in the case of reactions to the Prophet Mohammed and the religion of Islam.

The people to whom this work was dedicated were all living in 1963, the year in which it was written. (Most, if not all, are still living today.) One of the facts this book proclaims is that there are living mystics, living beings who have come to God-realization and who can communicate this to others.

The idea of a mystic writing on mysticism is not new. In some lands (not in the United States), only scientists whose knowledge is operational—that is, based on direct experience—are permitted or expected to tell of their experiences. There is no reason why the same policy may not be acceptable in more bizarre endeavors.

Samuel L. Lewis

Sufi Ahmed Murad Chisti



The Lotus and …


It is presumable that one who writes in a scientific spirit informs the readers of the subject matter. If he employs symbols, he should offer a rationale therefor. Gertrude Stein’s “A rose is a rose is a rose” is famous everywhere. But a botanist may find that a lotus is not a lotus is not a lotus!

The rise of semantics should serve to clarify mental atmospheres. Some writers have chosen to refer to Japan as “Lotus Land,” even at a time when the lotus appears as part of the national emblem of India. They have by-passed the late Sri Aurobindo Ghose, who has written many books, has many followers and whose influence has gone far beyond that of his devotees. He was responsible for the resurrection of the lotus as a practical symbol of importance, and it is important to many millions today. But not in the way some have depicted it, my good friends.

A scientist, seeking knowledge of the lotus, might refer to Bailey’s monumental Encyclopedia of Horticulture. Bailey has concluded that the lotus of Homer was neither the lotus of the Greeks nor the lotus of the Egyptians. And the Nelumbium, which is the lotus of Japan, is not the same as that of India, though related. There are a number of Nelumbiums recognized today, and you may even have eaten the roots of some in Chinese or Japanese restaurants.

Bailey says that the Egyptian lotus was a Nymphea, a different water plant. Or you can go to our nurseries and purchase a leguminous pot-hero which bears the same name. But, perhaps, Nelumbo indica is the one most recognized as both plant and symbol. This may rise from the muck, and yet it is a most beautiful flower.

The first representative of the Lotus-philosophy to appear in our midst was Swami Vivekananda. He came to the World’s Parliament of Religions at the World’s Columbian Exhibition held in Chicago in 1893. In those days no one dreamed of importing, especially from Europe, any authority on Oriental religions. Swami Vivekananda came an unknown and left a hero. With him, and with some others who occupied the platform, the Lotus posture was introduced.

One may read in the Yoga-kundalini-Upanishad of Krishna-Yajurveda: “Placing the two heels over the two opposite thighs (respectively) is the Padma (posture) which is the destroyer of all sins.” Padma is the Sanskrit term for Lotus.

But there is also another sense in which the Lotus, or Padma, is used in operational Yogic endeavor. The body is supposed to have a number of centers (chakra, dear ones, is merely a Sanskrit term for center or circle, and of itself should not produce any emotional or semantic reactions). These centers are usually referred to as “Lotuses,” especially the “Lotus-of-the-Heart” and “The Thousand-Petalled Lotus.” One can read about them in Indian literature, particularly in the long records of Sri Ramakrishna.

The possibility of man possessing what today we should call “unusual faculties” need not be disturbing. We possess what would have been considered unusual faculties by the ancients. Our evolution is not necessarily linear.

A number of different scriptures, theophanies and mythologies support beliefs in other planes of existence. St. Paul, for instance, spoke of a psychic-body and a pneumatic-body. The difference in religions is often one of accentuation, rather than of differing “truths.”

Aldous Huxley has given us some interesting research into the history of those who were un-normal. The Grimm Brothers have made One-Eye and Three-Eyes into “bad” girls, and common sense has often been triumphant, to its own undoing. We are not happy people, and in our misery or madness, we often seek the unusual.

Nelumbo indica is being accepted today as the essential plant and, also, the symbol of spiritual awakening. You find it all over India and also in the Buddhist countries. Indeed, the Saddharma-

Pundarika Sutra, which may also be called “The Lotus Gospel,” is one of the most treasured works of Mahayana Buddhism. It is the chief gospel of the widely spread Tien T’ui (Tendai in Japan) sect and is the special book of the Nicheren School. People who do not study Nicheren Buddhism (and very few of us do) were jolted recently when political candidates running for office in Japan on this doctrine collected a surprisingly large number of votes.

Saddharma-Pundarika Sutra is concerned with the risen-Buddha. It entranced the late Kenneth Saunders, one of the first Occidentals to do real research work into Buddhism. More recently, it was a subject of study at Dartmouth University. Saddharma-Pundarika Sutra is very beautiful and profound. I hope that in the future, when we distribute great books of the whole world, more people will come to read it.

In the Sutra are the transformation processes which take place either in the process of spiritual awakening or are afterwards given to us in a literary form, sometimes directly, sometimes symbolically.

We try to look into the hearts of many peoples, sometimes whole nations. It was Herr Hitler who, having had a few untoward experiences, condemned a whole religion and a whole race. Let us not continue to make the same mistakes. God and Rand-McNally are as much concerned with Afghanistan as with Italy.

My dear friends, there are many adventures for us botanically, esoterically, and even politically, if we wish to study the “Lotus” in all its facets.



The Problem of Evil


(Note: This chapter is not germane to the central theme. That is to say, most of this manuscript is concerned with the living experiences of human beings, and the ideas directly or indirectly conveyed to the writer. Nevertheless, without some background, without some idea of the differences in approaches between Asians and Westerners, misunderstandings may persist. We have become so anti-Spengler that we compromise with Marx. We must learn that different cultures operate through different matrices, not all of them explicable in terms of each other.)

The chemical elements were holding a conference.

One of them arose and said:

“What I am today I was and always shall be,

World and Dalton1 without end.”

And another arose and said, “That is so.”

Then one after another they supported the proposition

Until the chair was about to call for a vote,

When Uranium shouted, “No!

I am never what I was nor shall I be the same;

You are Christians with beliefs in the eternal soul,

I am a Buddhist with quite divergent views.”

Now Uranium was of little consequence among them,

So they examined him as a schizophrenic,

And tested and tried him in every way they knew;

In the end they concluded that he alone was right,

That all of them were wrong in a certain sense—

The Stone That Was Rejected Became the Corner Stone:

In the Form Ye Think the Least the Son of Man May Come.

The Lotus may be studied as plant, symbol or function. It was the marvel of ancients, as it grew in the most disreputable of places; it was a Harijan (Untouchable) that surpassed the Brahmans. It appears in the national flag of India. It is used as a mudra, or hand-movement, as a posture and in reference to certain centers in the body, or if you will, in reference to all the bodies of man.

My Western brethren, you have become so entangled with analysis and dialectics that you may confuse the function of something with the thing itself (presuming there are “things”). The analysis of matter is not matter, the analysis of mind is not mind, and when we try to explain love, we destroy it.

When we face the Orient, we find religions, philosophies and institutions which become logically incomprehensible. A nonconformist, wishing to study Catholicism, visits churches and cathedrals and even interviews a few priests. But the would-be Western scholars of the Orient turn to literature, much of it in translation, much of it commentary, and conclusions are reached which may never be found—indeed, have never existed—in human institutions.

The term Dharma2, so important in Indian culture, is not an analytical one. The noble Bhagavad Gita, as other Oriental works, presents so many means of achieving spiritual liberation that they cannot all be explained by our dualistic processes. “Right” and ”wrong,” as usually used by us, hardly belong to Dharma. The principles of relativity, comparatively new in the West, are very ancient elsewhere.

If we start to consider “capitalism,” “communism,“ “socialism,“ “colonialism,“ even “materialism,“ we find ourselves in a world of assumptions. We cannot always escape Lewis Carroll’s, “A word is whatever I want it to mean.”

The late Professor Cassius Keyser, of Columbia University, at one time specialized in non-Euclidean geometries. He found that each geometry could explain a multitude of operations, theories and applications, but not in terms of each other. He concluded that there was no absolute “right“ or “wrong“—one had to study the context, axioms, definitions and matrices. The same type of study is now being continued at Stanford University in California, as well as elsewhere.

After his comparisons of geometries, Keyser studied religions and philosophies and came up with similar results. One does not know how aware Keyser was that many Orientals had reached similar conclusions centuries ago. Keyser’s The Doctrine of Doctrines should be studied by all who wish to reconcile divergent creeds of any sort.

The work of Professor Keyser has been continued by Dr. Oliver Reiser, head of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh. He has boldly asserted that, in integration, one may find solutions to many problems and keys to better understanding. Within the sciences themselves, there is constant resort to integral calculus. Indeed, one must be skilled in mathematical integration; why not also in social and psychological integration? Certainly, in “the integration of the self.” (Here, the race problem recedes into comparative unimportance.)

Indian philosophies offer many parallels to contemporary teachings. There are several matrices from which one may proceed. One, found in the Upanishads, posits five sheaths or levels: anna, prana, mano, vijnana and ananda, or roughly, food, breath, analytical mind, integrating consciousness, and joyful-universe. (Here, we should not confuse definitions with functions.) And there are other such matrices in Indian philosophy besides that found in the Upanishads. From each of these, one may erect a metaphysical or psychological structure often capable of explaining processes still unsolved in Western culture.

At this point we run into difficulties. Sri Aurobindo made his own translations from the Sanskrit in order to be systematic and to explicate processes. These translations differ very widely from the translations made by Professor Daisetz Suzuki, writer of many books on Buddhism in general and on Zen in particular. It is very doubtful whether Professor Suzuki’s interpretations can stand the test of time. But India offers several alternatives to Sri Aurobindo’s terminology which can also be used as the basis for understanding Indies.

When we approach the world from the standpoint of vijnanavada, terminologies take on new meanings. Consider pain and suffering, malnutrition, economic and social disequilibria or any of the other “evils;” from cutting one’s finger or having disagreements with one’s mother-in-law, to mighty catastrophes. In common to them all is the assumption of ego. Even devotees of Buddhism who posit a philosophical anatta (that is, the denial of ego-substance), have not avoided egocentricity. Therefore, Sri Aurobindo and other vijnanavadins of India have accepted Buddha but rejected “Buddhism.”

The Lord’s Prayer asks for deliverance from evil; or, if one accepts the Christian Science version, it is an affirmation that “Thou deliverest us from evil.” The influence of Mani [Persian prophet in the third century AD—Ed], with his dualistic emphasis on good and evil, coupled with that of Greek thought, has penetrated Western religion and psychology so much that egocentricity is assumed, affirmed and defended. St. Augustine tried in vain to stem the tide. For every hundred of us who read Karl Marx, perhaps one studies the life and work of this great saint. The result is, as Professor Arnold Toynbee keeps on reminding us, that we have to have a “devil.” First we assert the existence of the devil, and then summon a “God” to protect us. Unhappiness marches on.

It is no wonder, then, that many Europeans and Americans are turning to the Orient and especially toward Zen Buddhism. Of course, many books are being written that have little to do with the continuance of Patriarchal Buddhism, properly known as ”Zen” or ”Ch’an.” But dissatisfaction is apparent, unhappiness is evident, the craving for peace persists.

Our dear Brother Westerner has tried to hold on to his ego and at the same time apprehend those who have a totally different outlook. If he had really studied the modern sciences, he would have recognized that the problem which originally faced Professors Michelson and Morley was their unconscious introduction of themselves, either as body or psyche or both, into their “test tubes.” It took serious acceptance of non-Euclidean geometry to solve that enigma; similarly, the possibility of an egoless approach will solve other enigmas. This is going on in both physical and biological research in transmutation, in contemporary genetics and in ecology.

No analyst can understand Zen, or convey much about Zen, or comprehend grades of consciousness and existence that take us beyond what the Indians call the manushic state. Assuming a mind and an ego, we are limited by these assumptions which become axioms, which become ”truths.”

The God of Moses was not an ”I Am” in our sense. He was even less an “I Am Jehovah,” which is only clear in the light of the genius of ancient Hebrew. The ancient Jews, much wiser than their descendants or successors, held that the language of Tanach, or Scriptures, should be not only sacred, but esoteric. As soon as the Septuagint appeared, egocentricity was introduced and egocentricity has remained. Cain, the symbol of this, perpetually assassinates Abel, the symbol of emancipated humanity. Symbolically and psychologically, there may be no difference between the murder of Abel and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

No doubt, there is a good which can be associated with universality. There is a peace which remains beyond understanding. There is a joy, preached by every prophet and sage of times immemorial. They have in common the cry to rise beyond egoicity and to submerge in the All.

This does not mean that one must discard his possessions, his position, his obligations, to find the ”Pearl of Great Price.” While religions teach we should abandon fame, wealth and power, all these exhortations really mean we should abandon the ego; and if one can do that, one can use the same fame, wealth and power to help the whole world.

Nor is it necessary to abandon traditional religion. St. Paul taught:

“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bound or free; and have been all made to drink unto one Spirit.

For the body is not one member, but many.

If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing?

If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?

But hath now God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him.

And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body.”

                —(I Corinthians 12:12-20)

Here we have the very integrational teachings which are being reintroduced today. Society recognizes the common dangers from atomic fallout, epidemics and catastrophes. The Qur’an proclaims, “The light neither of the East nor of the West.” Yet Indian philosophy has best preserved or asserted teachings which now slowly penetrate the Occident. Only the late Professor Heinrich Zimmer seems to have understood the real genius of India, this land of many cultures.

For India has also preserved the teaching of cosmic evolution of the existence of grades of being and of psychic categories. These teachings may be true in the sense that they explain phenomena for which the Occident has not yet found solutions.

The most ancient Indian traditions speak of wars between asuras and devas, forces of darkness and of light. But they do not explain exactly what those forces of darkness and forces of light actually are. If we go further into traditions, folklore, astrology, marriage customs and medicine, we find posited a number of grades of being; and it is not always the case that psychic-entities, so to speak, enter into physical bodies properly coordinate to them.

In the list of psychic types, man is normally manusha, the intellectual person. Sri Aurobindo has tried to explain the two types above in his teachings on over-mind and super-mind. But, during World War II, he discreetly pointed out that the bodies of Nazis were occupied by entities not only of asuras (the grade below manusha), but of rakshas, which to us are demoniac or animal-like.

For further consideration, one should study Sri Aurobindo and other Indian savants. The ”good” and ”evil” affirmed are often, perhaps, determined by our psychic evolution or karma. Just as America and Europe may be offering scientific and technical aid to Asia, so it might well be that Asia offers psychic and psychological and spiritual aid to us.

1 Dalton was a pioneer in describing the structure of the atom, which he conceived as having a fixed nucleus.

2The word “Dharma” may be interpreted to mean law, essence, universal harmony, thingness, even Tao. This is discussed in Chapter 11, “Learning Zen from Zen teachers.”



The Real Yogi Meets the Real Commissar

“Love makes the world go round.”

Q. What have you to say about communism?

Ramdas: Communism without violence is true religion.

To write books is one thing. To meet a real man is something else. To find a Yogi facing, if not a commissar, then a strongly organized communist movement, is something else again. But we of the West are so sure that “God” is on our side that we cannot always appreciate a God Who has no sides, no limitations.

The life in the body of Papa Ramdas is no more. His physical work in this incarnation has been completed. Many will be mourning his departure and many more will rejoice that he manifested the love-life (ananda) that he preached. There is a relation between Guru and chela, between master and disciple (also between Pir and mureed), which is based on the principles enunciated in the last chapter and not on the persistence of ego-individualism where this ego-individualism cannot be.

Swami Ramdas was never a student of semantics, in our sense. He did not stop where Mary Pickford did with a book, Why Not Try God? In a truly scientific and yet noble spirit he sought and, even after finding, continued to seek, as if the living God were a mine of ceaseless treasures, a fountain of truly living waters.

That God is the Reality, the Life, the Love, the Bliss is neither new nor original. There have been anandas before, there are anandas now, and there will continue to be anandas, no doubt, until all mankind awakens to the existing realities. Papa Ramdas was not the first, nor will he be the last of such a stream.

The Scriptures say: “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (I Thessalonians 5:21) Instead of trying to prove, religion has often become dogmatic, asserting and assuming. Churches opposed the scientific evolution of the nineteenth century, both the doctrines of evolution and the manifest evolution of the sciences; they have ignored the spiritual evolution of the day.

The lover of God is the lover of humanity. He does not have to hide in forsaken caves and monasteries. Jesus has told us, “Let your light shine before men.” This can be a reality even here, even now, and not just a symbol.

Go down the Malabar Coast, and not far from the town of Kasaragod there is a little railway station called Kanhangad. A taxi or a man may be sent to take you to Anandashram, the ”Abode of Bliss.” It is like stepping into a Marie Corelli novel: someone will shortly appear, and whatever has been your thought or wish will be provided. This is due to the living Grace operating through Krishnabai, the Mataji or Mother, about whom we shall write later.

Like all conformations, Anandashram has been subject to change. Its early history is recorded in the writings of Swami Ramdas and in records which have been scrupulously maintained. The Divine Grace which it proclaims is manifest in all its operations.

Anandashram is Sanskrit for Gan Eden, which we translated as ”Garden of Eden.” Both mean ”The Abode of Bliss.” All religions proclaim the primordial and the ultimate bliss; some insist that bliss and everyday life are not separate. This is the teaching of scriptures, unfortunately not the teaching of men; for men proclaim (they do not teach) what they themselves have not experienced. Bliss is operational, God can be and is known; mysticism is the life within, even as science, art and technology are the life without.

Swami Ramdas, whom many of us called “Papa,” was what he preached. His writings and his personality alike were vibrant. He has given us his life down to little details. He has been both a man of the world and a sadhu (recluse). He has known both society and solitude; pain and pleasure have been his wont and his limitations. He lived in God, for God, with God.

Few people are so far apart as the metaphysician and the mystic. The metaphysician is a person equipped with a huge vocabulary and, sometimes, with tremendous capacity for expressing everything through thought. But neither can love be explained by thought, nor thought by analytical chemistry.

Edward Carpenter has told us that love is something very simple that cannot be analyzed nor expressed by mere intellectual symbols. You cannot draw a straight line merely by adding points, and you cannot explain God by recounting endless anecdotes. The Bible has said, “In God we live and move and have our being.” This becomes true when it is the daily experience of somebody, anybody.

Ramdas called God ”Ram” and always said, “God is the Name.” Yes, dear ones, you can find it in the prayer books of Jews and Christians—in the prayer books. To the ordinary devotee, this is the end of religion; to the Yogi and Sufi, it is the beginning, and not only the beginning, but the way, the truth and the goal. Differences in basic languages used do not affect this teaching. Buddha, who has been called Sakya Muni, or the Silent Yogi of the Sakyas, protested against the loose use of sounds and mantras (sacred phrases). Ultimately, we may find that both “The Word is God” and silence bring us to the same destination. In The Gospel According to Thomas, one may read: “If people ask you: ‘What sign of your Father is in you?’ tell them: ‘it is a movement and a rest.’“

One need not write at length on Swami Ramdas. One can obtain his books. He explained his Yoga as being bhakti in the beginning, then Jnana, and then finally bhakti again. These words have no exact equivalents in English and are made more confusing because so much literature is offered from and by those who are neither jnanis nor bhaktis. Jnana is said to be the path-of-wisdom and bhakti the path-of-love-and-devotion. The terms are not exact. Even the most sober—and incidentally this is true of the greatest of jnana Yogis, Sri Sankaracharya—have given us beautiful love poetry.

Yet, to this writer, Papa was the finest of the mantra Yogins. He affirmed the Name, he taught the Name, he used the Name, he manifested the Name. Some day I hope the Christian world will look beyond “Hallowed be Thy Name” to the Name (or word) which Jesus used. Sometime I hope the people of the synagogue will turn from saying “shemay rabbo” (”the name of the Lord”) to the Word (or Name) Moses used.

Practical people may wonder whether this has any meaning in everyday life. We hear all over, both from Zennists and others who seek emancipation, that Truth and everyday life cannot be separated, that Nirvana and samsara are identifiable. Some people are sure that God must be against the communists; others are equally sure He must be against others; but is God against? Even the most bigoted Muslims must sooner or later recognize that Allah has permitted non-believers to discover, to invent, to improve the conditions on earth.

The communists in Travancore-Cochin (the district where Anandashram is located) have plenty of votes. India has abolished caste somewhat like we abolished alcohol consumption in the United States; though, ultimately, caste cannot persist in India, nor segregation anywhere.

There are many Brahmans in Travancore-Cochin and there are many Brahmans who have had trouble with their parents or in-laws or the government there, just as in the United States. So, among these well-born are plenty of crusaders who, through frustration or dissatisfaction, have become leaders in ”working class movements.” And in India, as elsewhere, ”working class movements” consist mostly of hating those in power. Personal observations indicate that politicians in Travancore-Cochin are more concerned with hating each other than with promoting justice.

Elections in Travancore-Cochin are hard-fought and close. The Congress Party wanted Papa’s support. Logically, this seemed obvious. Yet God-conscious people and even vijnanavadins do not see the distinctions that analysts and dualists make. All of God’s children have stomachs.

Papa loves everybody. From one point of view, being a Sufi, I am a Muslim; from another point of view, one could call me a Buddhist, for my whole life has been commingled with the intellectual and spiritual pursuit of the Buddha-Dharma. When I was with Papa, I was his child, and in the last visit, my closest companion was an Englishman who had the same sort of background and foreground.

India has many problems, complicated by the predicament that Indians know everything; they know everything and do next to nothing. There is no difficulty in convincing these people; whatever one affirms is in their traditions. It is only that Papa does, or did.

If Papa had met Friedrich Engles, they would probably have gotten along fine. At the beginning of this chapter, there is a quotation from Swami Ramdas. (Actually, Papa concentrated on feeding the poor and not on treatises on the subject.)

At Anandashram, Papa’s community, we find poverty is faced, not by dialectic, not by ethereal planning, but by substantial effort. While the Congress and Communist Party people stand glaring at each other, the expanding ashram has been caring for more and more of the poor of the region.

Anandashram lies at the foot of a mountain. There are some hillocks on the grounds, and the barn has been located on the summit of one of these. The barn is kept scrupulously clean and the washings gravitate into a surrounding foss. All available animal droppings are also thrown into the foss, along with vegetable wastes. In other words, we have an organic gardening farm. (I don’t know what is done with human excrement, but presume it is also used somehow.)

Springs have been found at two points where geological formations indicated they should be, and so a complete irrigation system has been provided. There is absolute regulation of water supply with the addition of the manure run-off, so they are used together to fertilize the soil. This is in accord with current practices in greenhouses—better a constant supply of weak fertilizers than periodic feedings. All this in a district where there is ample rainfall.

A sort of three-story farm has been established. Coconut palms are the foundation plants and the giants. There are two programs which operate under them, and these go on simultaneously:

a. There is the continuous harvesting of protein crops. Besides the coconut, one finds cashews, peanuts and other legumes. Farmers at Anandashram hope that pecans and avocados may be added some day. And, of course, there is a perpetual supply of milk and usage of milk products.

b. Proper spacing so that smaller trees—papaya, cashew, banana, etc. can grow to full size. And below them are herbaceous foods, including vegetables and legumes. Some leguminous plants are plowed under to provide further nitrogenous manure.

I did not see any rice growing at the ashram, nor did I make inquiries. Rice, milk and milk products are the basic foods served. There is also an endless supply of delicious “Brahma Coffee,” which is supplied from a neighboring region. One can have all one wants at breakfast, at least. No one starves and there are always guests—visiting sadhus and the poor of the surrounding region.

The economy practiced at the ashram has helped bring about an unplanned prosperity. There has been a slow increment in the purchase of land. This means the settlement of more farmers who are selected for skill. The latest group included many Muslims. There was a vast diversity of class, religion and aptitude among the newcomers and this, in turn, redounded to the good of the community.

Theologians may dispute as to whether Jesus said: “The kingdom of heaven is within you” or “The kingdom of heaven is among you.” The newly recovered Gospel According to Thomas gives both versions. That the removal of the ego-covering removes the source of evil was the theme of the previous chapter. This has been demonstrated both at Anandashram and at other holy places in

India. We only fear when we do not know; and what we do not know, in this day and age, are God and Divine Wisdom-Intelligence (in Sanskrit, prajna).

The ashram also has its hospital and clinic, and attention is now being paid toward having a suitable staff at all times. The ”garden” is dominated by a kind of cotton bush which functions horticulturally like an ornamental rose. It supplies bolls continuously and keeps one man busy full-time through the year attending them, harvesting, spinning and weaving.

“Why not try God?” wrote Mary Pickford. Swami Ramdas has. My description of Anandashram supplies only a few of the results.

The real Yogi has met the real commissar, and without hatred, without malice, without fear. Truly, God alone is great (Allaho Akbar!).



Papa and Mataji

“Love is the Divine Mother’s arms; and when these arms are outspread, every soul falls into them.”

                —Hazrat Inayat Khan

Oriental philosophies are not learned from books. If this were so, our professors could explain the Upanishads easily and clearly. All Asia, whatever be the religion or philosophy, acclaims the spiritual teacher, the guide, the one who has become liberated.

“Om! the perfected Guru!

Namo! the radiating Guru!

To know is to love him,

To love is to know him,

Whose presence is bliss,

Whose presence brings peace,

Whose pupils and being form a ladder together,

Bringing heaven to earth and earth up above,

The seen and unseen in one grand communion.

Om! Hari! Om Hari Om!

            —from “Shiva! Shiva!” by Samuel L. Lewis

There is a transforming process, known as diksha in India, which is not readily explicable in Western terms. But it happens. The experiences of Major Yeats-Brown and Paul Brunton cannot be wiped away because other Westerners did not ”cross the Great Divide.” Negative assertions by instructors in our universities prove nothing, and Keyserlings may visit a hundred countries without removing their mental goggles.

Years ago, my friend and spiritual brother, Paul Reps (Saladin), said to me: “You ought to meet Swami Ramdas.” “Who is Swami Ramdas?” “I don’t know.” “Then why do you think I should meet him?” “Because he has what you need.” “What is that?” “Love and laughter. That’s all he teaches, love and laughter.”

Surprisingly, within the next three days, two other people said exactly the same thing. It remained an enigma, and then one day it was an enigma no longer. The Bible may say: “The Heavens declare the Glory of God.” How do they declare it? Has anyone seen the Glory or heard the declaration? Yet, my friends, the heavens do declare, and when we again seek the Third Eye we may be knowing much more than our culture admits today.

At that time, I was working as a gardener in San Francisco. One day the heavens did suddenly open up, and the Guru, Swami Ramdas, appeared. He gave me his blessing and a prediction that he would appear in person in exactly one year. I related this incident to others, including some well-known professors. Alas, with them it is as with the Frenchman in early San Francisco, who, during a bank failure, rushed to the window, crying: “If you got him, I don’ want him, but if you no got, I want.” There are none harder to convince of the reality of mystical and occult experiences than those who lecture on them—and who are often well paid, too.

Exactly fifty-two weeks after the above occurrence, Swami Ramdas did arrive in San Francisco with an entourage. He spoke several times, and his speeches and the debates that followed are recorded in Ramdas Speaks, a series covering the Guru’s travels throughout the world.

Swami Ramdas and his entourage accepted me at once. The bond was made.

Several years passed by. My father died, and I received a legacy. Poor all my life, I did not know what to do with this money until Paul Reps, my friend whom I mentioned before, reappeared. He said, “You should go to the Orient. They are waiting for you.” “Why?” “You must go to Japan and teach them Zen, and to India and teach them true Yoga, and to Islam and preach Sufism.”

Well, my friends, that is exactly what has happened, is happening. Only this is not an autobiography. The day has not arrived when the mystic may speak on mysticism and the occultist on occultism out of their own experiences and out of the experiences of those whom they have contacted—exactly as scientists do. The day has not yet come, but, someday, inshallah (God willing).

It has been said that true love is the greatest of miracles. Whether one turns to Jesus Christ or to the Sufis or to the Bhaktis, nay, or to the real Zen teachers, one finds that supernal something which draws hearts to Heart, draws one from out of the nest of ego-self to cosmic cognition and recognition. Philosophers do not recognize the depth of Edward Carpenter’s Towards Democracy and U.S.I.S. {U.S. Information Service) leaders do not lecture on Walt Whitman. These mystics of the West understood the East, and the mystics of the East understand them.

Papa Ramdas has explained his teachings both in a few words and in volumes. He deflates without destroying the manas, or discursive mind. His followers include men of all classes, of all professions, of all castes, of all religions. This is not an empty claim—it can easily be substantiated.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

What is most obvious at Anandashram is ananda. One feels the bliss, the love, the peace there. Neither in the writings of Swami Ramdas, nor in the lectures or private gatherings did I hear exhortations to moral behavior. It seems to be, as the Sixth Zen Patriarch in China (Hui Neng, Eno) taught, that our original nature is pure, untarnished. We, ourselves, create the heavens and hells. This was the Garden of Eden, the Abode of Bliss.

Papa declared himself to be a little child and he was remarkably childlike, only without ceasing to be a sage, a philosopher, a seer, a saint, a mystic. And, like a little child, he was most fortunate to have had a loving mother in the person of Krishnabai.

“O Love, Love, Love,

See how thy dagger my heart has torn!

To the Jumna I sped,

Shining above,

High on my head

My water pitcher of gleaming gold was borne.

There by the water-side

My soul with his cord of love Lord Krishna drew,

I go and come at his will

Fast am I tied,

Adoring him still,

My Lord is Girdhar beloved, as the beautiful water blue.”

(from the Hindi of the Princess Mirabai, as translated in Songs of India by Hazrat Inayat Khan)

Howard Williams, who coined the title, “The Mother of Us All,” calls Mother Krishnabai a living miracle. “The Mother of Us All” is a famous piece of music; to sing it is wonderful, but to experience the reality, what is that? For Krishnabai is not Three-Eyes, she is Argus. Her heart and being comprehend everything and everyone. She has assumed responsibility for the operations of the ashram at all levels.

The ashram is farm and hospital, hotel and retreat. Mother Krishnabai supervises every facet, down to the slightest detail, and she does this naturally. In the dining hall, in the kitchen, in the offices, in the chancel, in Papa’s rooms, she flits like a stream of light. The guests are holy devotees, God-seekers, so received and so treated. The guests are her little children, needing food, needing comfort, needing solace, and so treated. The poor of the neighborhood are her charges; everyone needs love and protection. Mother Krishnabai is the servant of the servants, and yet….

My first meeting with Mataji Krishnabai came in San Francisco.

[Lines left out from the original—Ed.]

Now Karma Yoga; and man is not better, or is only a better hypocrite, from the use of “selfless service,” for the selfless person does not use this word “selfless,” it is used by the selfish to charm others.

In San Francisco, Mataji helped prepare a dinner for Swami Ramdas, and one could observe her manners. It was as if she were preparing for a communion service. Later, I saw her both supervise in the kitchen at Anandashram and prepare the meals. She is the heart-blood of the Sangha (brotherhood) which brings all vitality and takes away all poisons.

In 1955, Mataji’s Silver Jubilee was celebrated at Anandashram. A whole book of testimonials has been published1. From this book it would be well to quote first the late Holiness Sri Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh, India. He has a very large following, which includes many Westerners. His greeting reads, in part:

“The phenomenon of saintliness is the most beauteous empirical expression of the transcendental nature of the Divine Reality. Especially when the purifying, chastening and illuminating hues of Godly character find active expression on the transformed visage of a feminine form, the appeal of the aspiring human mind of the joyous spirit of an omnipresent Reality is immeasurably powerful.

“The sacred and galvanizing Presence of the blessed Mother Krishnabai evokes into activity the redeeming affections in individual human nature and thus renders them instrumental in the elevation of human nature to the glorious altitudes of spiritual perfection….” (Ibid., p. 26)

One cannot compel people to go to India. The testimony of Katherine Mayo is correct and that of Sir Francis Younghusband is correct and, to me, Major Yeats-Brown and Paul Brunton are still more correct. America contains the Grand Canyon and the Redwoods and the Colorado Spruce and the Brooklyn and Washington slums—all are there. The late A. E.2 saw the best and worst in Ireland; and that musician-saint Dilip Kumar Roy has seen the worst and best in India, and from him I quote:

“Sri Aurobindo once wrote to me: ‘The ultimate value of a man is not to be measured by what he says, nor even by what he does, but by what he becomes.’ Krishnabai, through her unflagging sadhana (spiritual practice) of self-discipline and love, has become what the Divine, acting through her great Guru, Sri Ramdas, wanted her to become: namely, a beneficent lighthouse in the moaning waters of desolate life. Starting from dis-harmony and bereavement, she ended triumphantly by achieving an unshakable harmony….” (Ibid., p. 49)

One could go on and quote much more. In view of the questionable conclusions of some friends who met Mother Anandamayee, it becomes more necessary to vindicate the saintliness of Indian womanhood. So I quote liberally from the article by C.T. Ramabai, who wrote the introduction to the Silver jubilee compendium. His remarks coincide exactly with the experience and sentiments of the writer; and, dear reader, before coming to your conclusions, let us at least record what the counsel for the defense has to say:

“Mother Krishnabai—A Brief Life-Sketch

“Krishnabai is the very image of purity, innocence, love, light and joy. She is at once child-like and mother-like. Her face is ever suffused with radiant smiles. Her eyes are full of light. Her hands are ever busy in loving service of all those who come in touch with her. Her words are filled with sweetness, gentleness and love. She loves all equally; she serves all equally, without prejudices of caste or creed. She never shrinks from service where her services are needed. She toils and wears herself out, however tired she may be. A single day with her, nay, even a few hours spent in her company, would help one to realize the glory of selfless service rendered without the fettering chains of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ and ‘others.’ As great souls in all ages have been persecuted and harassed, so has Krishnabai too been subjected to continual persecutions. Yet she has endured all with the most patient and loving forbearance that is characteristic of all saintly souls….

“Krishnabai was married at the age of twelve. She lost her husband after enjoying eight happy years of wedded life in Bombay during which period she gave birth to two sons. The death of her husband was the turning point in her life. The suddenness of the blow came to her as a rude shock. The peculiar circumstances in which she was unable to be present by his bed-side in his last days added poignancy to the tragedy….

“Remorse—heart-rending remorse—followed. She reproached herself for having come away from her husband almost against his will and thus failing to attend on him during his illness and absenting herself from his bedside in his last moments. Since that day her penance began. Her child—a little baby girl—was born; but it lived only for two months. After some time, she and her two children were taken to the house of her husband’s elder brother. She stayed with them for four years, during which period, after a futile attempt to end her life by swallowing poison, she started a course of severe sadhana to drown the bitterness of her grief…. Her brother-in-law and his wife, who were very kind and affectionate to her, tried all they could to make her forget the tragedy and divert her mind to other things. They took her to several holy places and also enabled her to contact saints, so that she might get peace of mind. But all was of no avail. Thus she was taken to the great saint Siddharudha Swami at Hubli where she stayed for a few months with her mother-in-law and two children, and got the upadesh of Shiva Mantra from that saint….

“In 1928 her brother-in-law went to England for advanced medical studies. He left his wife and children, as also Krishnabai and her two sons, then eleven and ten years old, in Kasaragod, at his father-in-law’s house. By a strange coincidence Krishnabai’s arrival in Kasaragod was only a few weeks after the opening of the Anandashram there by Swami Ramdas. Along with many people from the town, one day Sundari, Krishnabai’s sister-in-law, also visited Anandashram and was very happy to hear the inspired talks of the Swamiji. Thinking that Krishnabai might get peace of mind if she came to the ashram, she pressed her also to go to the ashram with them and have darshan of the Saint. But at first Krishnabai would not go, as she had her own fears and suspicions about those who, remaining impure at heart, put on the garb of saints to impress the public with interested motives. At last, after repeated entreaties, she consented to visit the ashram if only once, as they were so much pressing her to do so.

“The ashram was situated at the bottom of a small hill. Coming down the slope that led to the ashram, Krishnabai somehow could not help laughing. She did not know why, she remarked to Sundari. She was filled with a strange joy and peace which expressed itself as an outburst of irresistible laughter. This was the first time she had laughed in four years, after she received the tragic blow in her life. When she came to the ashram, the place was full of visitors. Bhajan (singing the Divine Name) was going on, after which Swami Ramdas talked a few words to the gathering. Swamiji’s darshan (presence), as well as his words, produced a deep impression on Krishnabai’s mind. She became a regular visitor to the ashram….

“At first Krishnabai used to come to the ashram, sweep the room, wash the vessels and prepare Swamiji’s bed. Later on, she would also bring water, which was placed in a small earthen pot, broom the compound and do whatever other work she could find to do.

“Her devotion to Swamiji became more and more intense day by day. She could not bear to see Swamiji doing any bodily work. She could not help shedding tears at the sight. She also felt anxious when Swamiji talked longer than his usual hours, because she feared it would hurt his throat. Krishnabai’s devotion to Swamiji was so great that she would beg him day by day, that all the ills of his body should be transferred to herself, so that Swamiji’s body, which was very precious, could be saved for the great work that had to be done through it. During the time she did not spend in the ashram, she would go to others’ houses and help the women there in their work. She was a personification of love and joy, and her only object seemed to be service in whatever form it presented itself to her. Wherever she went she carried with her the atmosphere of love and joy….

“But, as months passed on, gradually she began to transcend the personal aspect of God and her Guru. Her visions began to expand. She began to look upon all forms in the universe as the various forms of God, of her Beloved Papa.

“Krishnabai used to say that she was the smallest child of Papa. Wherever Papa was, there she must be; for she was Papa’s child and a child is and must always remain with its parent. Generally her family was unwilling to part from her and used to press her to spend more time with them in their house. Then she would say, ‘Since Papa is eternal and all-pervading, therefore his child Krishnabai too must be eternal and all-pervading, and therefore this child is ever with you.’ She would say she was the eternal child of her eternal Papa. All forms to her were the forms of her Papa. Whatever work she did was, to her, the service of her Papa.

“There was a friend of her family who belonged to the Sarasvat Brahmin caste by birth, but was converted to Christianity. He had his house in Kasaragod. He was very fond of listening to Krishnabai’s talks. He would talk to her about God, religion and the lives of saints. One day he had a European gentleman and his wife as guests at his house. He wanted them to see Krishnabai and hear her talk, and so invited her to his house. Krishnabai did not and still does not know English. The friend translated what Krishnabai spoke to his guest in English and what they spoke to her in our language. In the course of conversation they asked her, ‘How would you like to be a child of Christ?’ She readily answered: ‘Krishnabai is already the child of Christ. To Krishnabai, Christ too is but the manifestation of her Papa.’

“At another time, this friend showed her some pictures of Christ, along with other pictures. Among them he picked out and showed her a picture in which a crowd of people stood below stumbling in darkness, while a child—a little girl—stood at the top of a staircase, holding a lamp showing them light. The friend told Krishnabai the meaning of the picture. The crowd below, he said, represented the ignorant worldly people, groping in darkness and the little girl at the top was showing them the way to light, to God, by the light of her own lamp. ‘You say you are a child’ remarked the friend to Krishnabai, ‘So you too must, like the child here, point out to the world the path of light to God!’ To this also she readily replied: ‘To Krishnabai the whole world is full of light. She sees no darkness anywhere!’

“The friend laughed heartily at this answer and observed that one could never defeat Krishnabai in talking. She would have the upper hand always. At this she remarked quietly that she did and spoke only what Papa, her Ram, made her do. To her Papa and Ram were not different. They were one.

“In 1930 came Ram’s command for Swamiji and Krishnabai to leave the Anandashram of Kasaragod. Within three months a new ashram bearing the same name was built in Ramnagar, a hilly place about three miles from Kanhangad railway station. In May 1931, the opening of this ashram was performed with great enthusiasm. The utsava, or festival, lasted ten days during which period there were bhajans, kirtans, and religious discourses. Here in this Anandashram Krishnabai lives now, always busy with her ceaseless activities done as service to Ram in the form of those who come to the ashram.”

Ram is the special name Papa uses for the All-Pervading God. To this writer it has a mantric value which Shiva and Krishna and even the ubiquitous Om do not possess. But this can be evaluated only in the repetition of the Name and no argument is of any use here.

My own first diksha in the spiritual mysticism of India came through Paul Brunton, when he was chela (disciple) of Ramana Maharshi of Arunchula. There was a question, when the great muni of Arunchula died, who his successor was. I was told that this mantle was, in a sense, given to Papa Ramdas. There were always streams of people coming to him from the Holy Hill. And even Paul Brunton….

We are always looking to the past for great saints, and we also say that God is everywhere and in all things. Yet, even with living examples, we do not always become convinced, nor may this conviction be necessary. Papa Ramdas is with his followers even as he is, was, to Mataji Krishnabai. But Mataji is also with us, world without end.

There has been another controversy about a great Indian saint whose name was Upansi Maharaj and who lived near Hyderabad, Deccan. It was most interesting to learn from his secretary that the teacher of this great Guru was a Sufi and not a Hindu. In God, with God, as the great Shah Mimatuilah of Persia said: “Among the Gnostics, there is no differentiation of sects.”

There has been a well-known claimant who declared he was the successor to Upasni Maharaj—and his followers believed it. But I noted, when visiting Hyderabad in 1962, that all the followers of this Saint were proclaiming Papa, Swami Ramdas, as their living Guru.

This is written by a man known as a Sufi, an American whose closest companion at the ashram was a brother of Sufism, an Englishman.

Among the Gnostics, there is no differentiation of sects; in Jesus Christ, there are no high nor low, nor Greek nor Jew, nor Barbarians, and certainly nobody is excluded because of skin or race.

Wisdom is absorbed from one’s teacher; or attunement causes one to realize that Same Essence which is in each and all. It has little relation to book learning and yet we find the words in books, especially in Holy Scriptures.

Once I gave Papa an explanation of Ramayana, the spiritual epic of India:

Ram is the Divine Spirit,

Sita is the human soul,

Ravana is the desire nature,

Lanka is the world.”

My last visit to Anandashram was in 1962. Once I realized that “the Father and I are one,” it was time to leave, leave suddenly without a farewell. “Yes,” said Papa, “It is time to go. But who comes? who goes?”

1Silver Jubilee Souvenir of Mother Krishnabai’s Renunciation

2George Russell, a turn of the century Irish theosophist, mystic, poet and artist, and a close friend of W. B. Yeats.



Vedanta Today


“How hard to draw the water,

For deep the Jumna flowed!

And coming from the river,

The blue and shining river,

And walking by the road

I met upon the road

Krishna, who caught me passing,

And from my lota1 fell

The silver spilling water,

On my sari the water,

See the wet stains that tell,

My tale to all they tell.”

            Hindi Folk Song


Two great events of the last decade of the nineteenth century were the discovery of radioactivity and the appearance of Swami Vivekananda at the World’s Columbian Exhibition in Chicago. Although the literati had long since proved that transmutation was “impossible” and that alchemists were wild dreamers, the chemists and the physicists seized the Curies’ discoveries as a new starting point. In the natural sciences naught else was possible. But, though Swami Vivekananda was a human thunderbolt, the psychologists were not uranium seekers; the mental sciences passed by the unclassifiable (according to their matrices) as if it had never happened—before or since, and even now.

Churches bemoan the lack of attendance of scientists and savants at services. One wonders if any of them would dare to explain the congregation (or Sangha) at the Vedanta Center in Hollywood. We may read The Razor’s Edge [by W. Somerset Maugham—Ed], but what was behind it? Who was the real hero or heroes? Step by step, the new generation is looking elsewhere—to the music halls for excitement, to the Asians for wisdom, to the traditional places of worship less and less.

Even Jewish mysticism (not “exciting” enough to study today) affirms that whenever there is too much evil on earth, the Holy Spirit draws near; the greater the evil, the closer the Holy Spirit to maintain balance and order and to promote regeneration. In the Indian teaching, we read: “When Dharma decays, I come.” In extreme cases this may result in the appearance of an Avatar, a divine incarnation. Presumably, the list of Avatars includes Rama, Krishna, Shiva, Buddha and Jesus. But if the Jewish mystics were correct, any onrush of the Holy Spirit would result in an Avatar, and within this context the followers of Sri Ramakrishna may be quite correct in their claims.

What does Avatar mean? We build dams and dynamos, solar engines and atomic devices; these draw stupendous forces from the universe, harnessing them for mankind. The Vedanta movement has been coeval with this mighty technological surge. Both cultures take us beyond analysis, beyond the shortcomings of an Aristotle, a Mani, a Hegel.

That mighty power-house, Sri Ramakrishna, declared that, after his death, his vitality would incarnate into fifty-thousand other Ramakrishnas. There is plenty of evidence, therefor, if one visits ashrams and Vedanta Centers. There are laws of transformation, laws of induction, principles of attunement, in the sciences. Light passes to light and manifests as light; magnetism passes to magnetism and manifests as magnetism; power passes to power and manifests as power.

The forces of Shakti (science) indicate principles of the world of form. Are they different from those of Shiva (personality)? Is not Vedanta demonstrating the truths of nature, of the world within and without?

Can we study the Gospels as classroom material without theology? Can we demonstrate its teachings? What do we mean when we say, “I believe,” and does it have the same meaning now as it did two thousand years ago? Who has the power to make us “sons of God?” Where is the Sermon on the Mount? What is God’s holy name? How do the Orthodox refute semantics? No wonder one hears in India that, in two hundred years, the whole world may be Vedantic!

My friends, in America and especially, alas, in the ill-informed representatives of the USIS, that Hindu and Muslim bhai-bhai (are brothers) is impossible. Yet I met my first representative of the Ramakrishna Order in East Pakistan through a Muslim. And when I faced him, it was like gazing at the great Swamiji himself. And what was our Swami doing? Sweeping the compound, feeding the poor and instructing the professors! He had no time for lectures on Karma Yoga; we leave that to our European or self-esteemed professors of “Oriental Philosophy.”

From that time on, I have met Swamiji as sweeper, as janitor (a different caste in India), as cook, as servant to disciples, as lecturer before the public, as leader in meditation. I have met him caring for flood victims, directing ceremonies, building hostels, doing work in the office, working in the shop, etc., etc., etc. You will find Swami Maharaj filling all duties from yard-bird to Field Marshal, and with no change in his emotional attitude. Yes, even today.

So, beloved ones, we can easily find the real Lotus-man, the one who has realized the Lotus within; we may know the plant, the symbol, the reality.

The literature concerning Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda is voluminous. Did they behave as human beings? Are they to be excluded from humanity because they do not fit into some water-tight compartments of a psychology which is constantly being discarded for another psychology, which in turn gives way to something else? While Aldous Huxley is explaining, or explaining away, ourselves and our institutions, is there anybody classifying him? and where? how? and why?

Bliss has always been the sign of spirituality. It was discussed in the previous chapters. It is the soul of the Beatitudes of Jesus Christ. It is the goal of the Upanishads and other scriptures. From the psalmist (of old, of course) to the mystic of today, similar experiences are posited. Even that madman Blake knew about it. And be assured, my friends, it is not euphoria. “Overcoming self, the universe grow I.”

Swami Maharaj Raganathananda is, to me, a Himalayan vastness among dunes. I shall not relate here how I met him, nor can the feeling be measured quantitatively or qualitatively in our premises, in our matrices. In the Indian cosmic psychology, yes, and some day we may really study the cosmic psychology and the wisdom. My friends, one cannot repeat too much: Oriental Philosophy is operational, not speculative; it has nothing to do with dialectics or imagination.

My sixtieth birthday occurred in 1956 in New Delhi, and on that occasion Swami Maharaj Raganathananda gave me a tea party, as I was leaving India. There were also present the Swami Maharaj from Calcutta and Professor S. C. Chatterji, head of the Philosophy Department, Calcutta University. Without waiting for an introduction, the professor burst out:

“Oh, you Americans, you horrible Americans! What scoundrels you are! You are not only liars, you are cowards and hypocrites. You don’t do the lying yourselves, you go out and hire Germans for your universities to lie for you, and you accept the lies without a murmur!”

Swamiji interjected, “Before you attack him, why don’t you wait until you hear what he has to say.” An apology was soon forthcoming. The universal Dharma which underlies both spiritual Buddhism (especially in the form of Zen) and mystical Hinduism (in Advaita) had long been awakened—awakened, not communicated, by a Zen Master, of all things—the late Sokei-an Sasaki, of whom more will be said later.

In private capacity, I have never met a European philosopher with whom I have agreed and never a European scientist with whom I have disagreed. It is not the Europeans who are objectionable; it is our strange pattern of selecting them as interpreters for an Orient in which they have no part. Count Keyserling never really saw Asia; Oswald Spengler and Asia could not be explained by European methods. We have differed. And not only that—when we have not gone to the Europeans for explanations of Indian terms, we have gone to Professor Daisetz Suzuki, whose interpretations of Sanskrit terms have set up a vast wall between Indians and ourselves.

No wonder, then, that when I was in India in 1962, there was a mass campaign against European instructors of Oriental Philosophy…. There were mobs, throngs in attendance at the meetings of the Ramakrishna Mission, at lectures by pundits, by holy men, and these mobs showed a tremendous interest in the Bhagavad Gita and mysticism. Even hundreds of Europeans attended such gatherings. And along came Krishna Menon on the crest of the wave, and no Americans took any notice of what the man in the street in India was thinking.

It was the United States which supplied Dr. Gardner Murphy, who asked the people on the street what they believed, what they wanted. He is admired for this in India, but who knows of him here? It has been the United States which has sent one newspaperman after another to plead its case before the public abroad, and many of them were lucky to escape unscathed, and some did not escape unscathed.

It would take a volume to describe the Vedanta movement of the day. Even in America, especially in Hollywood and Boston, we have the Swamis Maharaj, God-realized souls who are recognized by the public, who have crossed the oceans dividing East from West and manhood from Godhood. We have plenty to learn, and the teachers are available.


1 small water vessel



The Flute of Krishna


“The Voice of the Turtle is heard in our land.”

                —Song of Solomon 2:12


As science is operational, so is mysticism, and so, even, is occultism. Popular lectures on these last subjects tell us nothing. The time must come when the participant in occultism and mysticism at least be given a place on the forum. He does not ask to have the sole position, as perhaps is expected of scientists; but at least he would like to be heard.

Some writers have made derogatory remarks about Anandamayee. True, she has broken “protocol,” but who established this protocol? Our loose use of the term “trance” to cover any state of consciousness where one is either unaware of material surroundings or aware of much more than material surroundings, is very misleading. Indians speak of four states of consciousness and five bodies; most esoteric traditions allude to seven planes. The world repeats in parrot-fashion that those who have experienced samadhi never tell about it; if nobody ever spoke, how can we be sure there ever was or can be any samadhi?

We smirk at Pundit Nehru and his exercises. We marvel that Adenauer, the former Prime Minister of Germany, was so full of vigor as he neared ninety and we cry that India retained as leader a man in his seventies who, at least, attended to the needs of his body. His rejection of priest-craft and folk-tradition does not mean he rejected wisdom. India has had one type of mystic as President and another type as Vice-President, and we ignore this in toto. Despite the fact that Dr. Radhakrishnan has long since been regarded as one of the greatest thinkers, greatest men of the century, we ignore him in discussions and “sciences” where this fact of his eminence is too hard to assimilate.

No doubt India has failed to take its physical problems seriously. It even fails to examine its traditions. The Hindu is so fearful of the rajasic guna which stimulates activity, that he has fallen into tamas guna, which is to say, sloth. We see this in Indian people, in diets, in the soil and in the inability to put into practice the very wisdom which is quoted so often. The best example of this may be found in Soil Management in India, a recent Ford Foundation publication. Indians know everything, they do next to nothing.

Orthodox Hinduism calls itself Sanatana Dharma, and this gave Aldous Huxley and others the idea of “perennial philosophy.” This seems to embrace all activity, the marketplace as well as the temple, the festivals as well as the family. But behind this constant activity is the Silence, and it is out of the Silence that Sound comes.

Gautama Siddhartha, the historical Buddha, is often known as Sakya Muni, which is to say, the silent sage of the Sakya clan. There is a Mauna Yoga, or spiritual development through and in the silence, and some of its devotees are still to be found in the recesses of the mighty Himalayas. But the world of today, too concerned with activity, ignores both the scriptures and the scientific laws. Newton has posited either the state-of-rest or uniformly accelerated motion. Man seems to be incapable today of grasping the state-of-rest.

“And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake.

“And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

“And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle….

                —(1 Kings 19:11-13)

Many passages in the Bible remain enigmatic when we apply “common sense” to them. We no longer have the old Hebraic Pardes, or the fourfold interpretation of the Scriptures. So we either give an obvious interpretation or we reject an obvious interpretation. Even with the rise of the new anthropological methods, following the late Sir James Frazier, we have not come to see that all religion may be based on common experience, though of a different order.

In The Wisdom of the Overself, Paul Brunton has explained the way-of-breath, the way-of-heart, the way-of-the-eye. My friends, these are operational, they are based on experience, they are not speculations. You may call them Yogic methods if you wish. They are not dream-patterns, idle or otherwise.

Bhagavad Gita stands as the supreme scripture of India in more than one sense. India has tomes of great literature, and it is comforting to learn that Professor Reiser of Pittsburgh is trying to fill in the huge gap left by Mortimer Adler in regard to the literature of most of the world. Krishna is the hero of the Gita and of other poems and scriptures. He is usually depicted as playing the flute.

Why the Hebraic shemayim is translated as “heavens” and not as ”sounds” is not entirely clear. In some renditions, in traditions, in commentaries and in mystical writings, the relation between the unseen worlds and sounds is presented. The idea of the existence of an ocean-of-sound and worlds segregated by sound-ranges is neither new nor uncommon, but the traditions become lost as the human experience recedes.

It is not only in India that the relation between sounds and the supernatural is considered; in many ancient lands, the relations between music, sounds and divinities predominated in religion and in the mysteries. And today, if you go to India and know something about Sarasvati, the goddess of music and learning, or about Sri Krishna in any of his capacities, you will be most welcome. Ultimately, we may comprehend that after the Muslims entered India, they converted far, far more people by the deft use of spiritual music than by all other means combined.

Debates in India are not like those here. In one sense they resemble Japanese wrestling. You always “agree with thine adversary quickly.” Prolonged debate evidences either ignorance or dualism. Spiritual matters are beyond these. If you have risen above the dualism, if you have experienced that Yoga means not only the methods to Godhood, but also the constant practice of the presence-of-God in some form, friendship can easily be accomplished. (It may take a couple of generations to influence our diplomats. But maybe some of our young people will be curious, if not interested.)

The early part of this century was dominated in India, culturally, by Sri Aurobindo with his integrative, or vijnanavada, philosophy and psychology. One might always ask, “What is the universal, or major premise into which our varying positions can both harmonize and integrate?” This is something Westerners do in mathematics; in psychology and social relations we still adhere to dualism and egoism.

The higher one rises in the levels of universal consciousness, the more the agreement. That now-forgotten American, Nila Cramcook, has written on the intermingling of the mystics of India with those of Islam (Sufis). Here, again, our foreign service has by-passed an American who knows about Asia for Europeans and other Americans who have no standing on that great continent. Our representatives stick to the idea of two communities, yet seldom go out and mingle with the public, even when great celebrations are on.

The famous Tyabji family illustrates that a Muslim may be as patriotic an Indian as a Roman Catholic of Maryland might have been a patriotic American during our Revolution. You can go to New Delhi and find Raihana Tyabji, who lives near Delhi Gate, and you will discover this daughter of Muslims deeply in love with wisdom from every source. She has experienced the Bhakti Yoga illumination through the Flute-of-Krishna.

From Cape Comorin to the heights of the Himalayas, there is a common spirit, ages old. And peoples in all sections may come to hear that “still-small-voice,” which is a reality. Through Bhakti

Yoga millions have come to give up their small selves. And you can’t understand India until you go into the homes, enter in the lives of the people, or go on a pilgrimage.



Vedantic Christianity


“Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold.” (John 10:16)

… The Spirit of God descending like a dove …” (Matthew 3:16)

“I believe in the Holy Catholic Church.”


Beloved Ones, when the Holy Spirit descended like a dove, it must have cooed like a dove. When it cooed like a dove, the music would have been like that of the Flute-of-Krishna; like the Voice-of-the-Turtle. The Hindu View of Christ has been written by Swami Akhilananda of the Vedanta Society of Boston, Massachusetts. It sets forth, in a most noble and comprehensible way, one side of the picture. The Hindus seem to be able to explain Jesus Christ without any change in outlook or philosophy. Can the Christian perform a like operation?

My Protestant friends, wherefrom the credo: “I believe in the Holy Catholic Church?” As soon as the word “catholic” is mentioned, then comes the parade of emotional and semantic reactions. No, this term does not appear in the Bible. The late Jan Smuts coined the word holism, and there were no emotional and semantic reactions. Yet catholic and holis arise from the very same Greek root. If we say, instead of ”catholic,” universal, maybe everybody will be happy.

The dove is a Christian symbol, the dove is a universal symbol, and the dove (or turtle) emits its peculiar sound. But until one has the experience, there is a barrier between appreciation of that sound and what has been called “The Voice of the Silence.” Now, this is an experience of mystics, even if it be not of symbologists and metaphysicians; and it is a universal experience and, in this sense, catholic. It may be for all. Yet when one says that, it is not to be presumed that “Truth”—whatever that be—must be in Indian terms, or Oriental terms. As Qur’an teaches, the light of God is neither of the East nor the West. As life proves, every race, every culture has contributed something to the well-being of the entire humanity.

Smuts offers “Holism” and Sri Aurobindo has ”Integration,” and in mathematics and mathematical philosophy, there is another form of integration, and this, too, is spreading over the culture. Then, one day some Jesuit will come out and say: “Pshaw! That is what we have been teaching all along.”

It is hard to conceive that Jesus was not universal. “I am the vine and ye are the branches thereof” presents the same principle that is the underlying theme of this book and of the writer’s experience. It is no more and no less wonderful than when Abdul Baha phrases it: “People of the world, you are as the branches of the tree and leaves of the branches.” This is the nature of the organism.

Jewish exegesis is based on a four-fold interpretation of Scripture which we might call literal, metaphorical, symbolic, and esoteric or operational. These terms are not exact. When a Clarence Darrow faces a Williams Jennings Bryan, and the latter bobs up and down between the first two interpretations with an occasional excursion into the symbolic, there is no basis for agreement or disagreement. There is no reference or referents, and arguments prove or disprove nothing excepting that there is no reference or referents.

This has caused a number of people to turn from the Western religions to the Orient, in the hope of getting a clear vision that either the religion of their ancestors was untrue, or that it did not fit into their experience or understanding.

When Saint Francis Xavier came to India, he found that it was the Hindus that were jumping up and down among the literal, the metaphorical, and the symbolic, and that there was no agreement; to him, the whole situation was chaotic. Besides, what was there in the noble Upanishads that necessarily led to the acceptance of popular Indian worship in any form? If the Vedas and Upanishads taught “truth,” why could this not be offered to anybody and everybody?

The possibility of opening their scriptures to outcastes and strangers stood for centuries as a horrible threat over the orthodox Brahmins. Their “laws” made it a crime for the “wrong people” even to hear the Vedas. Indeed, the story of the Jesuits in India has not been written fully, although there are indications that it might be some day. Does the Vedanta (i.e., Upanishads) prove Shiva or idolatry or even Sri Krishna? Does it disprove Jesus Christ and the Church?

This constant menace became more and more threatening as the years passed by, and Indians have soft-pedalled this in their stories of revival and regeneration. If nothing else, the Jesuits have either impelled or compelled India and its apologists to set their house in order.

On the other hand, the Portuguese armies, with their cruelties and persecutions, have stood as a black mark over and against anything the Roman Catholic Church has tried. They destroyed the Eden of South America, one of the few paradises which has existed on earth. The United Nations, in playing politics, has to remain blind to the Four Freedoms. This cannot be.

Our Western culture, today, has taken the reality away from God. God must not be experienced—you will be suspect; but, even more, God must be believed. So we find the Christian world with its operational science (you have the experience, then the belief) and its theological religion (you have to have belief, but experience is not welcomed). Then people rush to Oriental faiths, even without examining them.

But this was not always so. Early Christians not only had a faith based on experience—one can quote from the New Testament over and over again here—but they even had their own Yoga systems. We have plenty of records, both of Jews and Egyptians with esoteric methods; when one finds something in them which confuses one’s personal ideas about Jesus, it is de-emphasized. But the recovery of more and more ancient records strengthens the position of Yoga, in its true sense. That is to say, the word “Yoga” can be applied to those methods which not only emphasize a search-for-God, but even more, to those that posit the God to be sought.

The word gnosis appears over and over again in the New Testament, where the word “catholic” does not appear at all. There is no more and no less wisdom in adopting the Indian jnana than the Greek gnosis. The lives of early Church Fathers are not matters of general study; the navel gazers are all but forgotten.

“Love makes the world go round” has been quoted, but it is equally true that the world makes love go round. Here, love means that feeling which makes oneself a part of others, and others part of one’s self; it neither involves nor excludes passion.

My own experiences with Catholic Fathers abroad have been most happy; my own experiences with Asians, especially Indian Catholics, have been most harmonious. If one called the Jesuits Jnana-Yogins and the Franciscans Bhakti-Yogins, he might not be wrong. But this assumes that the Indians have those Truths which are reflected in other religions and overlooks the alternative that Christianity, or some other faith, might have the Truths which may also be found in India.

As a person, I have found the agape of Jesus more wonderful than anything else, excepting, perhaps, the karuna of Mahayana Buddhists. But this word is also concealed both in the rahim of Islam and the ram of India. The Franciscans seem to have complete and perfect love to and with both God and man; the difference between them and the Indian ideal seems to be that it does not involve an ecstatic other-worldliness. The God-Love is here, now.

If the Franciscans are the bhaktis, so to speak, then the Jesuit Fathers are the Jnana-Yogins or vijnanavadins. Speaking to them individually, one finds that same all-embracing integrational outlook which is now being popularized through the efforts of Sri Aurobindo and his followers. But the Jesuits have done some strange things in exotic lands—when we like it, we call it wisdom, when we dislike it, we call it casuistry. So, my friends, if your experiences (not your thoughts) with Jesuits are different from my own, one cannot refute you.

This apology for Roman Catholics does not mean that some Protestants have not caught the spirit of the Orient. Stanley Jones has given us his The Christ of the Indian Road. It is a fine book, though one may find it neither universal nor catholic.

The Camp Farthest Out involves experiments as well as experiences which show how much Indian thought has penetrated into our own lives. Meditation is posited by the Bible; meditation seems to have been an ancient practice of Jewish people. It stands close to the basis of their mysticism; it has been the wont of their Chassids of all times.

The world today needs surcease from tension and excitement. Doctors are looking for viruses when they should be examining the nervous system. Jesus Christ is not our ideal surgeon, our ideal healer. Our “Madison Avenue” puts out signs, “Galilean, thou hast conquered,” but one wonders, conquered what? and where? even, why?

The “Meaning of God in Human Experience” needs to be semanticized. Even in the deep Protestant South, I have found many people who claim to have had the beatific vision and kept quiet about it. One dare not tell one’s neighbor, and often the neighbor is in exactly the same position. We are back to that same medieval period which Aldous Huxley dissertated upon. We have still to read H. G. Wells’ early novels to see what happens to a person with unpopular or unusual faculties.

But, dear ones, the world is awakening. The “Holy Grail” may be far off; or, like Sir Launfal, you may find it in your own household. God bless you.



Beyond Paul Brunton—the Return of Lord Buddha


Most European authors of Orientalia have paid very little attention to other European visitors to the Orient. Some of their confreres seem to have misunderstood the whole spirit of Asia. Nearly all ignore Osvald Spengler and can hardly refute Titus Burckhardt, who claims that, to understand the mysteries and mysticisms, you must submit to the disciplines thereof. Neither our senses nor books written by others help our understanding very much.

The clear reality of Dr. Sarvipalli Radhakrishnan stands out like a beacon light. One may sarcastically remark that he seems to be studied by everyone who is not a “Professor of Oriental Philosophy,”’ because his experiences, his outlook, nay, his wisdom, are of a totally different order. The operational man stands firm, whether he be a mystic, a scientist or an artist. This is always the theme of this book.

India has given the world at least three logical systems. Naturally, those versed in them may not be thinking nor acting like Aristotelians or Hegelians. We are only now beginning to recognize the existence of these Indian systems though some are ages old.

My predecessor and spiritual fellow-traveler, Paul Brunton, found a very different India than did many so-called “experts” on the Orient here in the West. He has bathed in the Ganges as I have bathed in the Godavari. The days of his search have gone. The last report was that, at the end of his life, he became a holy man. He is not the first, nor will he be the last, who found the great light by going to India.

Here, I wish I could speak plainly. It is not done, not because it should not or cannot be done; it is not done because a host of writers and non-operational lecturers have thrown screens of smoke and fog around the living Dharma. Even when we translate the Indian diksha as “initiation,” this does not explain much. The celebrant of the Ancient Mysteries was silenced because that was part of his discipline; the modern participant, too, has been silenced; but now Asians, not versed in our Western methods, are beginning to speak plainly. There is no reason why they should not.

In his Hidden Path Beyond Yoga, Paul Brunton came very close to a secret Mahayana Buddhism. When we met, we agreed that each should move in a different direction, and there was no idea that our paths would cross-trail as they have, recently, in India.

I was most fortunate to be in India in 1956, during the celebration of the Buddha jayanti, supposedly twenty-five hundred years since his birth. Many things were being opened up, and not only were there huge exhibitions of Buddhist art, but a complete revival or revitalization of Buddha’s teaching.

This appeared in at least three forms. One was the well-known conversion of the scheduled castes and classes into a form of Theravadin teaching, that Buddhism which is found in Southeast Asia. Another was nothing but a sort of Vaishnava movement, to hold that the Buddha was one of the incarnations of the Supreme Deity—an old tradition, but one largely confined to literature. It often involved a doctrine exactly the opposite of Buddhistic teaching, that is, the supposition of ego-personality and ego-substance. It is very doubtful whether this doctrine will continue to be espoused in these days of rising education.

Indians often say that they absorbed the best in Buddha’s teachings. What was the “best?” The great moral teachings of Buddhism do not prevail in India; or, if they do, they are there because of the universal Dharma common to both Hinduism and Buddhism. Certainly, neither the ideality of the Dhammapada (a Buddhist scripture) nor the nobility of the Bodhisattvic ideals has played an important role in Indian history nor in Indian morality. What is common to Buddhism and Hinduism may be common to all faiths.

In 1956, I was travelling from Agra to Nagpur one night when accosted by a gentleman who told me his name was Rahul. He added that he was a scion of the historical Sakya clan, and that his branch of the family had adopted the name of Rahul in memory of Lord Buddha’s son.

Rahul explained his form of Buddhism. It closely resembled the Kegon doctrines which I had learned at Nara and which have been presented to the Western world by Professors Takagusu and D. Suzuki. This teaching presumes that the original Dharma given out by Tathagata1 after his enlightenment was for the few, and it had to be toned down for the general public in what has been called the agama teachings. Agama appears in both Pali and Sanskrit, but the original Dharma was kept semi-secret for a long time. It is contained in Avatamsaka, one of the longest arrays of spiritual scriptures and teachings, but it has not yet been given to the West in any complete form.

This presumably fundamental Buddhism includes a form of cosmic monism. One can see it reflected in contemporary atomic anatomy and in the “Biological Transmutations” of Professor Kervran of France.

Although I met Dr. Rahul before meeting Dr. S. C. Chatterji of Calcutta, Dr. Chatterji’s story is much the same; but it includes difficulties encountered by the writer among our “experts”—whatever that means—in Oriental philosophy. These experts are of two types:

a) We have men, like Professor Northrup of Yale, who demand operationalism, that is, direct experimental participation in their physics. These men then go off into the wilds of personal speculation and parade the same as Asian Philosophy or Asian wisdom.

b) We have had a parade of professors, graduates of Heidelberg, Leyden, Oxford, Cambridge, etc. who are granted, by American universities, the right to confer degrees in Asian culture, yet hardly one of them is given any respect in the whole continent of Asia. None of these professors, excepting Titus Burckhardt, has even participated in those experiences which would give one the right to teach and explain the Din or the Dharma.

If this theme has been presented in this work before, and is presented again, it is to arouse some Americans to realize that situations like the impasse in Vietnam and the election of Krishna Menon, or even some anti-American riots, are not always due to the machinations of a Krushchev, as he himself told us. A “spiritual Peace Corps” of Asians is as yet unthinkable, or is it?

While deprecating Yale and, still more, what passes for Buddhist (?) teachings here in California, Rahul had nothing but the finest things to say about Harvard University. We have been able to see our ideals appointed as respective Ambassadors to India (now recalled) and Japan.

Rahul spoke to me at some length about the fine things he found at Harvard and the fine personnel. I was later able to visit the Buddhist library there and hope that someday there will be an integration between the researches already performed by Dr. Eidman, who now lives in California, and what is going on in the Quad. Another generation will, no doubt, see a totally different kind of Buddhism, along with that now being presented to the American people by Chinese and Japanese.

The combined efforts of Dr. Radhakrishnan, the Aurobindo Movement and the Ramakrishna Mission are helping to re-integrate much of Buddha’s Dharma back into Indian culture. When one reaches the highest levels, one may conclude there is but one Dharma, of which the spiritual “Hindu”-ism and the spiritual Buddhism are facets.

Mysticism is concerned with infinity and finality. It is concerned with self-discipline and, usually, with devotion to a teacher. It has nothing to do with speculation or “Ph.D-ism.” We must let the Lotus-people speak for themselves.

The India that I have found has its saints and its slums, its terribly ignorant and its more super-terribly wise, its social differentiation beyond our capacity to comprehend and its philosophical integration, still a step ahead of us. It has lands which make deserts look potentially viable, and its scientists, who are equal to those found elsewhere. Its new students may stand on a par with those of other lands and its traditional bureaucracy is superior to all—in frustrations, protocol, and baba-ism. Many things may be said that are true, and the opposites are also true.

Indian psychology has scope for the ladder of evolution: rakshasa, pisaka, asura, man, nobleman, and super-man; this has always been so, and it is found in laws, customs, ceremonials, and again in the revival of learning. India simply cannot be explained in dualistic, Aristotelian terms. We must change our attitude toward Spengler, we must change our attitudes toward humanity. We have had two wars against Germany, and we can sit down to table and meet Germans as equals. We have had no wars (directly) against any Asians but the Vietnamese and the Japanese2, yet the Japanese are almost the only Asians that we can sit down to table and meet as equals. Why?

1This name for Lord Buddha comes from a Sanskrit word meaning “thusgone one.”

2Western involvement in China, Korea and Southeast Asia has been intervention, contrasting with the direct aim of defeat in Japan.



In Search of Satori


Zen for the West by Professor Sohaku Ogata

We begin here with a reference to a book, not with a quotation. A quotation may seldom help us to attain satori, that is to say, enlightenment, or samadhi; a book may not be of much use either, but if we must have books, this is an excellent one.

An earlier generation was much concerned with the privilege of defaming a certain religion or race, and not even the last world war has removed from the face of the earth the assumed liberty of defaming; only, at this writing, we are defaming peoples other than the Jews and religions other than those of the synagogue. To this writer, all defamation of peoples, races, religions is morally wrong and will bring both social and personal retribution.

The following incident is true. A gentleman built a beautiful garden in Santa Barbara. It attracted much attention, and people (including the writer) came long distances to see it. It was called a Japanese garden or, occasionally (whenever the late Mr. Hearst had an outburst), an Oriental garden.

A Japanese Ambassador, coming to Los Angeles, decided to visit the place. The owner proudly conducted him around. “What do you think about it?” “Wonderful, wonderful, we have nothing like this in Japan!”

This well applies to most of the material paraded before the American public in books, lecture courses, and even in some university studies. These studies are often most interesting, and one cannot say always that what is presented is false. But, when a friend of mine who has numerous college degrees went to an actual seminar given by Buddhists, he returned saying, honestly: “I don’t know what they were talking about.” You can attend lecture and seminar without end and find “wonderful, wonderful, we have nothing like this in Japan.”

In 1961, I had occasion to climb the hills around Takht Bhai in Northwestern Pakistan. One thing became very clear, especially after several visits to Taxila, and that is that meditation is, and probably always has been, close to the heart of pure Buddhism. No doubt the postures were different, and the conclusion is that devotees sat in the “Yakushi” pose found in Korea and at Nara.

Among the minor speakers at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, in 1893, was Master Shaku Soyen. He gave the first presentation of Zen Buddhism to America, and for a long time Zen meant nothing to Americans but meditation and meditation-practices; not lectures, not doctrines of any kind.

Shaku Soyen received a cordial welcome in San Francisco and was invited to return in 1906. At that time he brought with him two disciples of his Rinzai School, Daisetz Suzuki and Nyogen Senzaki. Both of these were linguists and scholars, though the former became famous thereafter and the latter hid his light under a bushel.

The Rinzai (Chinese, Linchi) School was brought to Kamakura centuries ago by Master Eisai. (He is also famous for his contributions to tea ceremony and Japanese art.) It is a school of rigor which especially appealed to the nobility and samurai, the warrior caste. It still flourishes, though far outnumbered in membership and strength by the Soto School, which is more democratic and milder (or more compassionate). But both are meditation schools; in both, they speak about Dharma and Buddhism, and meditation is the means, not necessarily the end.

Shaku Soyen published his now little-known Sermons of a Buddhist Abbot. If he had only had the “foresight” to have used the word [text not readable—Ed] nay, the magic word “Zen” in the title,

Sermons of a Buddhist Abbot might now be a best seller. It is not even on the required lists of many institutions purporting to give instructions in Buddhism, or Zen.

Another early influence as Zen was imparted to the West by the famous lady writer L. Adams Beck (Barrington). Although her later books were devoted to Buddhism and Zen, her outlook always seems to have been cosmic and beyond sectarianism. It was she who first arranged to have Reverend M. T. Kirby (Sogaku Shaku) come to America to give the first public lectures on Zen after those of his Master (or Roshi), Shaku Soyen.

Kirby was a monk by nature, and psychologists could no doubt have a field day studying him. He was a scion of a fairly prosperous English family, but from early youth was inclined toward monkery. He joined a Roman Catholic order, but it proved to be too worldly for him (so he says). Anyhow, he went to Japan, with the example of Lafcadio Hearn before him, became converted and studied under the great Master.

Like most Westerners and like nearly all university graduates, he had a terrible time trying to control his ego and his mind. Scholars either do not understand that the mind can be in a state of rest, or they do not want it to be. Their attitude is like wishing to have their cake and eating it too.

Monks in Zendos have been divided into (a) “Rice-bags,” who have come to escape the turmoil of life and have a place to stay; (b) “Sutra reciters,” whose delight is in the intellect; (c) Those with a real insight into Dharma.

Kirby had already gone through the “rice-bag” stage, but controlling his mind was almost too much. Some Rinzai monks seem to be tinged with sadism. That is on the outside, for the Rinzai students recite the Four Vows of the Bodhisattva, and there is no absolute differentiation between oneself and another. The teacher really takes it upon himself to see that all devotees advance in the Dharma, and it is no child’s game. Only when the pupil succeeds may the teacher rest, so processes of discipline are taken very seriously.

Kirby had been raised in comfort. Suffering and tribulation were hardly known to him. He was trying to rise above difficulties he had never had to face. How could he go through the Buddha-experience if pain, poverty and disease were so foreign?

But instead of finding peace in the zendo, our brother, Sagaku Shaku, was finding everything else. The Master seemed to have become more and more impatient, more and more angry, more and more apt to actually administer “thirty blows.”

After one severe thrashing, Kirby could stand it no more; he fled down the hill, threw his arms around a tree and sobbed in utter despair. In that instance It Happened—the satori experience, the reality.

I was a very young man when Kirby told me his story. This was long before the libraries and book shelves were filled with literature using the word ”Zen.” There was no protocol dictating that disciples could not impart their personal experiences or their wisdom to others. They did not use enigmatic Chinese stories to illustrate what they themselves had not experienced.

In those days, we in California pictured Tibet as the land of the Masters and the Himalayas as particularly holy. There was no distinction between magic and wonder-working and spiritual development. If you could perform phenomena, you must be especially advanced.

At the same time, the Japanese had come here and introduced their Pure Land Buddhism. It was nothing like the folk-mythology concerning Tibet; it did not even resemble the early teachings which were originally recorded in Pali. So Kirby had to face an enormous task. But he was so successful that, after a while, he received a promotion and went to the Hawaiian Islands. He planted at least the seeds of the Dharma there, and there has since been a continuum of instruction in English.

Kirby could speak Japanese. Then Japan and Great Britain were allied. There were open conversations in his presence, and he warned me over and over again that the Japanese intended to occupy the Islands some day. Who believed him?

Buddhism teaches peace, Buddha teaches joy, the selfless religion opens only to a universal outlook, and here was Reverend M. T. Kirby involved in Japanese imperialistic politics. He could not give up the Dharma with which he was thoroughly imbued, so he left first Hawaii and then Japan, and went to Ceylon where he became a Theravadin monk and may best be known as the thera (teacher) of Dr. Malalasekera.

On December 8, 1941, after Pearl Harbor, the British Secret Service took him into protective custody. I vowed then and there that whenever anybody told me my country, the United States, was in danger, I would go to the authorities. My friends, this leads to no satisfaction. The story of M. T. Kirby was repeated in part in the lives of Nicol Smith (author of Burma Road) and Robert Clifton (Phra Sumangalo) and others. Before one can inform or warn his country, he should remember the old Greek story about the boy who cried “Wolf!” This has been the attitude toward Americans who have had unusual entries into exotic societies—unless, of course, they be newspaper men; then we believe anything.

Kirby left two heritages, which might be called Theravada and Zen Buddhism. Theravada teachings flourish in Southeast Asia and rely on Pali texts. Sometime after Kirby left San Francisco, one Dr. Thompson arrived, bringing the whole Tripitaka, the canon of Southern or Hinayana (Theravada) Buddhism. He also introduced the Siamese cat. The scriptures have now been put safely away, and there is little serious study of the historical Buddha in our country, unless it be in universities. The Siamese cat has made Dr. Thompson famous, forever.

Kirby introduced me to Beatrice Lane, who later became Mrs. Daisetz Suzuki. This brought me into contact with that marvelous literature of Mahayana which takes years to scan, much more to study. I believe that she, more than anyone else, inspired her husband in the work which occupied much of his life.

The next introduction was to Dr. Kenneth Saunders. He started out as a Christian missionary and became a deep student of Buddhist and other Oriental art. He gave grand lectures on Angkwor and Borobudur, and it was from him I learned about the “Lotus Gospel.” He wrote at some length on the lotus in art, religion and symbology.

Theravadin Buddhism has made little headway in the United States. In California, of course, it ran up against the Tibetan-complex, and this was probably true elsewhere. Paul Carus tried in vain to acquaint his fellows with the personality and orthodox teaching of “The Light of Asia.”

During the twenties, Mrs. Rhys-Davids was a dominating personality in encouraging the study of Buddhism in the Western world. For a long time, perhaps due to her husband’s influence, she had favored the Theravadin interpretation of the Pali texts. But toward the end of her life, she gave out a different version. Unfortunately, we are too much under the influence of dialectical rather than operational interpretations and run into the bizarre complex of witnessing egocentric personalities presuming to advocate the an-atta, or non-ego, teachings.

I first met the late Nyogen Senzaki early in 1920. Like Dr. Kirby, he had been a student-disciple of that wonderful Shaku Soyen. He occasionally attended meetings at the Honganji Temple on Pine St. where Kirby officiated. When that monk departed, he urged me to become friendly with his brother, a friendship which continued until the latter’s death in 1957.

At that time, Senzaki-san had two quite different careers. He served as a cook and valet and did any work, no matter how menial, to maintain his livelihood. On the other hand, he was also a respected linguist and translator, well-versed in languages and literature, and a specialist on the German poet-philosopher, Goethe. As a servant he acted humbly toward everybody; as a scholar people acted humbly before him.

Kirby and Senzaki established “Mentorgarten.”1 It was a sort of open forum for Asian subjects, though we did celebrate Japanese folk festivals and Mahayana religious holidays. There was no special emphasis on Zen, but we did have silences, especially at the end of meetings. Anyone who had been to Asia or could contribute either from studies of Asian scriptures or from direct investigation was welcome. Only one thing was forbidden and that absolutely—speculation.

Perhaps the most interesting of all visitors was one Trebitsch-Lincoln, who then called himself Dr. Ruh. He was an adventurous character, at least partly Jewish, who had changed his religion many times, his fervor never. While always participating in the meditations and silences, he did love to argue; there he found Buddhism comfortable and Christianity uncomfortable. But he never rid himself of the influence of German dialectics.

Dissatisfied with the world, and perhaps also with himself, he finally sought refuge on Omei-Shan, the sacred mountain of West China and center of esoteric Buddhism. In his last days he uttered a series of prophecies and condemnations of the world. The West, preferring Boake Carter and his colleagues, did not listen. The ends of these two men are noteworthy, and, I am afraid, dear friends, this is a tendency of the world at all times. We pray for a Trebitsch-Lincoln (or one who can accurately forecast the future), but we listen to a Boake Carter (or one who feeds us what we like to hear). One has only to look at Southeast Asia to exemplify this and more than this. One wonders when it will stop, if ever.

In 1956 I met Dr. Leung Tat Sat in Hong Kong. He was a practicing physician and also a nuclear physicist. He told me he had graduated from three schools of healing: the Western Allopathic, the Chinese herbal and the Chinese ”needle” school. He told me he had never lost a case, and one might believe him. When we are more interested in healing than in methodology we might learn from him.

But we did discuss Omei-Shan, and he confirmed the speeches and writings of Trebitsch-Lincoln. He also told me stories about the sacred mountain and esoteric Buddhism (I had just had some training in Japan). His knowledge of the wisdom common to all the faiths of China, and perhaps to the whole Far East, was profound, and we predicted that the next winners of the Nobel Prize in physics would probably be Chinese—which proved to be true.2

But in our search and spiritual ventures, one of the most interesting of all persons contacted was Robert Stuart Clifton. He came to San Francisco around 1928, and then officiated at the Hongaji Temple on Pine Street, the same place where I had met Kirby, Senzaki, and Daisetz Suzuki.

Two aspects of Buddhism are presented by Honganji. It continues the Pure Land Teachings, especially as formulated by Saint Shinran Shonin. This is called tariki in Japan, meaning salvation through other than self. But it is based on “The Vow of Samantabhadra,” which represents the Bodhisattva in an exceedingly high and profound form, seeking to save all mankind from misery at any cost. The Pure Land methods are far more widespread than our literature or so-called ”study courses” indicate, and neither on Pine Street nor in the Orient did I find the total separation of methodologies, as I have in Christianity or even in Hinduism. Both in America and in Japan Honganji promulgates the universal and Pure Land teachings together. And nowhere are there any statistics to prove that any one Way is better or not better than any other Way.

All Buddhism involves compassion; compassion and salvation are not separate. The whole career of Robert Clifton exemplified this. During his lifetime, he crossed both the United States and the Pacific Ocean many times. He had been to Japan for Pure Land instruction. In New York he met the wonderful Sokei-an Sasaki and became convinced of Zen. He later became a novitiate at the Soto Temple in Tsurumi, between Yokohama and Tokyo. His spiritual realization gave him a universal outlook. Later in life, he also passed through Theravadin discipline (for which he became known) and Tibetan discipline (kept rather secret). He became known as “Phra Sumangalo,” a leading personality in the whole Buddhist world.

Partly through Robert Clifton’s efforts, as well as through the cooperation of others, there is now a World Buddhist Fellowship. Buddhists are endeavoring to accomplish what other religionists have not: an organization including all sects and interpretations of their faith; a mutual recognition.

It is regrettable that our State Department and press never took this man seriously. We are spending millions of dollars today in efforts and they are not always successful, either—to obtain an equilibrium or status which was ours if we had listened to him. His name will go into history, if not into the press. The Encyclopedia of Buddhism will contain objective articles, historical data which later our universities will seek, while the public remains in ignorance of the true facts of a true Asia.

Did Phra Sumangalo find the ”Great Peace?” He did exemplify love and they are not always successful, either to obtain an equilibrium, or status, which would have been ours had we listened to him. Clifton’s name will go into history, if not into the press, The Encyclopedia of Buddhism will contain objective articles and historical data which later our universities will seek, while the public remains in ignorance of the true facts of a true Asia.

1 When Senzaki-San opened a zendo some years later in San Francisco, the “Mentorgarten” name and format were dropped. These were later reinstated by the writer of this book who named his home in San Francisco (at 410 Precita Avenue) the “Mentorgarten.” Sunday night Dharma-meetings continue in this location up to the present time.

2 The Ohsawa Foundation is today offering a combination of Buddhist, Taoist and scientific wisdom in its programs.



Zen Is Meditation


“Friends in Dharma, be satisfied with your own heads.

Do not put any false heads above your own.

Then, minute after minute, watch your steps closely.

These are my last words to you.”

            —Nyogen Senzaki in The Iron Flute


One can hardly repress tears. Twice I have seen this noble man melt—once on a celebration of Shaku Soyen’s birthday, and again on a celebration of a birthday of my first spiritual teacher, the Sufi Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan. With all his development, all his problems, all his sufferings, even being a Bodhisattva did not make him to lose his humanity, ever.

Friends, there is nothing in an emancipated soul which compels him to drop his humanity. The ”false heads” mislead you, they are misleading you now, both as to the nature of Buddhism and as to the nature of deliverance from falsehood. The Sufi, the Yogi, the Bodhisattva, may spend much effort in watching his footsteps closely; this is beyond the ken of the metaphysician, of the ”false-head.”

Zen is operational. It is based on discipline, practice, experience. Zen for the West by Professor Sohaku Ogata has been mentioned. Sokei-an and Ruth Fuller Sasaki have contributed much. We now have excellent zendos. Indeed, we even have the Chinese coming out and instructing us in wisdom. We need no more ”false heads.” ”Kill the Buddha,” never; Kill the Mara (delusion), yes.

The biography of Nyogen Senzaki is being written by others, whether piece-meal or complete I do not know. The simple servant I met in 1920 has become a legendary figure. The great doctor of philosophy remains unknown. The Buddha-Dharma claims there is no abiding ego; sensei (Zen teacher) used to say: “There is no such person as Nyogen Senzaki.”

In 1926, Senzaki suddenly dropped all his learning and began to speak pigeon English. He denied everything else and held us, for a time, strictly to meditation with nothing else but a word or two from Shaku Soyen, and tea. The Bible may teach: “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away.” (Job 1:21). This is good Judaism or Christianity—at funeral services; it is good wisdom always. Read The Gospel According to Thomas, and you may not be able to distinguish between that Jesus and a Zen Master—it does not matter.

Yes, Senzaki-san gave me ko-ans, gave the others around me ko-ans, too. It is not necessary to discuss them. The aim of the ko-an is prajna. This is translated as ”wisdom” and loses its significance thereby. It may be called the operation of the One Mind. Read The Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch and try to prove it—to yourself.

One of the early visitors to the zendo in San Francisco was Reverend Ishida, a Soto Zen Tea-Master. This was my first contact with a teacher of this school, and it was noticeable that he seemed more concerned with compassion (Karuna) than with either discipline or morality. He performed a tea ceremony and gave us the impressions intended by The Book of Tea of Okakura Kakuzo. The ”Great Peace” is beyond the distinctions of Taoism, Buddhism or any other spiritual pattern. I am sorry if my writer-friends, devoid in the prajna, cannot comprehend it. But then, in the course of years, I have witnessed tea ceremonies that were not like that of Master Ishida, not even in form.

The Bodhisattva is patterned after one of the great archetypes whom we find in art, in folklore and in ritual; and Master Ichida was, to me, an ”incarnation of Samantabhadra,” the Bodhisattva of Compassion. His tea ceremony had the same import as a pure Christ (if not Christian) communion.

Some Americans have accepted the tradition that the Dalai Lama is an incarnation of the Bodhisattva of Mercy, Avalokitesvara. There is no need to dispute that here. Avalokitesvara (Kwan Yin, Kwannon) represents mercy; Samantabhadra, compassion; Manjusri, wisdom; Maitreya, the ”future Buddha,” etc. And then there is Fu-do … ah, Fudo!

Fudo is Jesus driving the money-lenders from the temple; Fudo is Jesus castigating the scribes and Pharisees; Fudo is Jeremiah standing before the king; Fudo is Bodhidharma refusing to praise the emperor; Fudo is the wise guide who does not confuse sentimentality with love.

Roshi Furukawa, of Engaku-ji, Kamakura, was the very embodiment of Fudo. Many only knew him as a severe mentor, and yet, because of him, disciples experienced satori. What good is all the negativity, disguised as mercy, if it does not lead to deliverance from sorrow? When the pupil fails, the karma of the failure is on the teacher. Buddhism does not recognize ego-personality, and people are in error if they presume any self-teacher is whipping any self-pupil because of failure. The self-centered man cannot comprehend the ways of Bodhisattva.

And yet, when I was privileged to visit the temple at Kamakura, my friend Okuda-san and I were received with open arms by this same Roshi and treated as a school-boy treats his best pals after a long absence. There was nothing but love and joy. Some day, when we emerge from the legendary curtains placed before the mystic by those who dominate the public forum and reject the experiences of the mystics themselves, one will be able to tell openly what is now forcefully—one must say ”forcefully”—kept as if ”secret.” It is not so.

The zendo in San Francisco also hosted the Chinese Master, the Venerable Tai Hsu. He was the Chief Teacher of the Chinese Lin-chi School, which corresponds to the Japanese Rinzai. Much milder than Reverend Furukawa, he was just as adamant on one point; that speculation has no place in Buddhist teachings. Here he failed; he did not impress America, which has, alas, only too often accepted both speculation and personality as the doors to what is called ”Buddhism.”

Tai Hsu and Senzaki-san used to communicate by writing. Our Japanese mentor told us he did not understand Mandarin, but could easily read the Classics. One day the two Buddhists were invited to the home of Mrs. Leila Havens in Piedmont, California. By some mistake they took the Claremont Avenue train and got off at the Piedmont Avenue crossing in Oakland. Nobody was there to meet them.

Senzaki-san told us that, after a while, he became very nervous and walked back and forth in a fidgety manner. Master Tai-Hsu looked at him and said: “Isn’t this a wonderful day? Look at all the trees in bloom and see the beautiful flowers. How we can enjoy ourselves here!” Our Japanese friend at once apologized. Just then a car that had been sent to look for them turned up and they were quickly escorted to their destination.

The event resulted in a marked change in Senzaki-san’s behavior and attitude. He henceforth showed less of Fudo and more of Samantadhadra.

Tai Hsu’s later career was very tragic. In his organization, the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha were not so properly united that the wise or illuminated man controlled the destiny of Buddhism. The tradition that a holy man must not touch money has often resulted in funds being misused on a large or on a small scale. The successes of Tai Hsu’s campaigns were frittered away. But he did influence Dwight Goddard, who gave us The Buddhist Bible and tried to present the whole of the Dharma to the American public.

In 1923, the Zen Nyogen Senzaki met the Sufi Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan in the home of Murshida Rabia Ada Martin in San Francisco. The two men sat down at a table, looked into each other’s eyes, and both immediately entered into that samadhi which so many lecturers tell us about but do not experience themselves. The details have been written in Senzaki’s memories. They corroborate Emerson and dismay dualists.

After that, the Zen Master considered himself to be a disciple in Sufism and the Sufi teacher, in turn, regarded himself as a devotee in Zen Buddhism. In the Hadith (Traditions), the Prophet Mohammed said: “Seek wisdom even as far as China,” but the path of the Muslim seeking such wisdom is not always easy either.

Senzaki-san showed himself to be a universal man in other respects. His favorite quotations were not from Buddhist texts. One was John Tauler’s, “The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me.” Another was from Abdul Baha: “People of the world, you are as branches of the tree and leaves of the branch.” He did not only quote these words, he lived them.

Shortly after the zendo was moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles, I was in severe difficulties; when publicly attacked, a former friend who was functioning as a Buddhist teacher turned on me. At that time I had to visit Los Angeles, and when I entered the zendo, I was amazed to hear sensei (teacher) excoriate this pseudo-Buddhist in no uncertain terms. It was almost in the language of a Henry Miller. In a short time the karma that this man had set into operation overtook him and he disappeared.

At another time, two women I know were going around Los Angeles spreading vicious gossip about a Vedanta Swami. True, all Swamis are not masters or saints, and not even every Vedanta monk has reached a high state. But I found that this particular Swami was totally incapable of any sort of vice or tort or misdemeanor; that sort of evil did not appear capable of having a foothold in him.

A personal vindication of the Swami resulted in those women trying to spread the same gossip about me; and they immediately followed it up by visiting our Zen friend. As soon as they came to the zendo steps, he walked out and greeted them: “Get out or I call the police!” This was rather a shocker to those who had never heard of Fudo.

“But, Mr. Senzaki, you do not know what we have come for.”

“Get out or I’ll call the police!”

“But, Mr. Senzaki, we wish to join the temple and study with you.”

In those days our friend had a battered old hat which he often wore. He took it from the shelf and walked down the front stoop. “Where are you going?” “To call the police!” I never heard from one of those women again, and there was no more personal gossip against either this person or the Swami.

Not that Senzaki-san always admired the Swamis, either. He called on another one, who had just given a sermon on the topic, “Be equal-minded in pleasure and pain.” Our Japanese friend said he enjoyed the talk so much he would like to have an interview. This was granted.

There was a vase on a table in the waiting room and, just as the door opened for the interview, the monk got up in an awkward manner and knocked the vase over. “You clumsy fool! that vase cost me $200!” “Oh,” said Senzaki, taking out his wallet, “I am very sorry,” and to the amazement of the Indian, he showed the wallet that contained hundreds of dollars (at that time). He calmly peeled off the amount requested, gave it to the Swami with a flourish and a bow, and, departing, said: “Thank you so much. Now I know the meaning of being imperturbable in pleasure and pain. Thank you so much.”

These and many other anecdotes prove that a Zen monk seldom, if ever, behaves like the ”Zen monk” of the lecture hall, or, necessarily, like the questionable translations of Chinese tales of centuries ago.

My friend, Paul Reps, became interested in Senzaki-san shortly after the Japanese went to Los Angeles. He helped in the publication of Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, A Hundred Zen Stories, and the publication of other works which are particularly Zennish—not based on speculative enigmas.

Sensei introduced the ko-an teaching. This does not mean, nor prevent, a witty saying, “In Zen there are no miracles.” Once there is a spiritual attainment, neither time nor space nor conditioned existence (samsara) can interfere. Some day one may speak as plainly of occult occurrences as of physical ones. I hope some day this will be permitted and welcomed.

Let me relate my last conversation with Senzaki, in 1957. I had returned from Japan the long way and, entering the zendo, remarked: “When Sam Lewis and Sogen Asahina met, were there one, two, or no persons in the room?” “Have some tea.”

Further conversation was unnecessary. Both of us knew a phase had been completed. The ko-an, nay, the ko-ans, had been solved.

If anyone asks, what did Nyogen Senzaki give me, the answer is “Buddha Hridaya” (Buddha Heart).

Seek and ye shall find.



Learning Zen From Zen Teachers


The Cat’s Yawn (Title of Sokei-an Sasaki’s work)

“Some may slander or argue against Zen,

They are playing with fire, trying to burn the heavens in vain,

A true student of Zen should take their words as sweet dew-drops,

And that sweetness will also be forgotten when he enters into the region of non-thinking.”

            —From Sho-do-ka, translated by Nyogen Senzaki.


Friends, Bodhisattvas:

It is very hard to write those experiences which take one deep into the recesses of personality, or beyond personality. The emotions which accompany or follow meetings with those more advanced in the spiritual realm vary, and one has to express them in terms which cannot convey these variations.

Sokei-an was not a Swami Ramdas or Sufi, whose love-vibrations permeate the atmosphere. Neither did he show power or beauty or repose; he was, in one sense, the most ordinary person one could meet and, in another sense, the most complete. If his followers seem slightly fanatical or devoted, this has been because of the Dharma-transmission left by him, and no one who has fallen under his influence has ever been the same afterwards.

My first visit to New York took place in September, 1930. I was then, in part, a guest of the Roerich Museum, which was the center of many activities. Among these activities were groups dedicated to Tibetan-Mongolian Buddhism and to the Theravadin teachings (Maha Bodhi Society). It was at the Roerich Museum that I was first told about Sokei-an, a Zen monk living in New York.

The Roerich Museum tried the impossible: egocentric ”Buddhism:” There was no Sangha (brotherhood of monks) in the usual sense, and soon the individuals were in conflict. Some of this story is too well-known to discuss here. But one of the final efforts of Professor Roerich was to establish a cancer research center in the Himalayas, where people seemed to be unusually free from this disease. Unfortunately, even now there has been no proper world survey to ascertain why some people in some places do not develop this disease; in other words, there is no ”etiology,” and we are still seeking cures.

Sokei-an had then only recently opened his zendo. His teacher was another disciple of the oft-mentioned Master Shaku Soyen. He had learned to amalgamate the verbal and the super-verbal, the intellectual and the prajna. Fortunately, his teachings have been preserved in The Cat’s Yawn. This, to me, is the same as “Lion’s Roar” of the Buddha, and “Wind-Bell” of the San Francisco zendo (Soto School), or “Thundering Silence.”

I remember attending nine lecture-meetings of Sokei-an, and, after each talk, he permitted just six questions. He never dodged, he never equivocated, he went straight to the point, and I know of no occasion in which anybody ever went away confused or dissatisfied. (This has been confirmed by several of his early disciples.) Besides these encounters with Sokei-an, I was fortunate to have had a number of private interviews and meditations.

In common with all Zen monks, Sokei-an considered speculation to be most dangerous. There is a great gap between the devotees of the First Zen Institute on Waverly Place in New York and the respectable who have attended Professor Suzuki’s lectures. At the Institute they learn and practice Zen; on University Heights the chemistry of the orange peel is so alluring that they have no idea of the juice that quenches thirst and gives life.

Following the Rinzai pattern, Sokei-an used ko-ans, and, indeed, paid more attention to them than did his ”uncle,” Nyogen Senzaki. Buddha had taught that all humanity had enlightenment and perfect wisdom, but did not know it. The ko-an is one method by which we may realize we are truly ”sons-of-God.” Discussion only hampers.

Sokei-an explained and discussed Dharma. The word “Dharma“ (philologically connected with form) may be interpreted to mean law, essence, universal harmony, thingness, even Tao. It is man that has divided the Dharma, the “legal“ (Sanskrit, astika) schools now being known as Hindu, and the “illegal“ (Sanskrit, nastika) schools, which include Buddhism. But each teaches Dharma, whether as Sanatana Dharma (eternal way, or perennial philosophy), Arya Dharma (noble truth, etc.) or Saddharma (perfect wisdom). In Sokei-an they were all blended—there was just Dharma. It is to the non-conformists that one leaves discussions about “Zen,“ whatever they mean.

Between the lectures and answers to questions, Sokei-an revealed a profound knowledge of the Dharma, including the wisdom of the Upanishads, the cosmic Indian psychology (no American has touched more than the surface of what this Japanese monk knew), the basic philosophies of Mahayana, and a lot more. One learned to transcend time and space and even to “see“ into the future.

My friends, do not seek such faculties. It will bring only misunderstanding and enemies. You will be misunderstood. Find your true nature first and then, if you will, look a little. Someday, when we examine occultism and mysticism objectively, a lot more will be told.

Sokei-an was a living person; “Zooey” (of Salinger’s Franny and Zooey) was fiction. Studying with the teacher, one learned to comprehend the scriptures of the Orient. Emoting over the fiction has led to some very doubtful psychiatric patterns.

Digressing for a moment: I visited a hospital in Japan to see a Korean patient; he had been raised as a Christian, was very devout, very ethical, but thoroughly frightened. There were three other young men in the room, all Japanese, two of them followers of Zen, and one of another school. The young men adept in meditation were considering the surgery just as any other event in life; the other Buddhist was slightly but not noticeably afraid. The contrast was so great that the Korean began to doubt his faith. Was it faith if it brought fear? Again, I hope this will lead to objectivity and to the value of meditation. There is no reason why people of all religions, or no religion, cannot learn and practice meditation. No lectures, please, just effort.

In 1945, I returned to New York full of anticipation, to learn that on my day of arrival Sokei-an Sasaki had entered into Parinirvana (“death“). It was the saddest period of my life; since then, it has been impossible for me to experience such sorrow. Devotees on Waverly Place, New York, and Waverly Place, San Francisco, will understand.

In 1956, while travelling with Kiichi Okuda in Japan, we visited Mrs. Ruth Fuller Sasaki the first thing upon our arrival in Kyoto (always the spiritual people first). “What did Sokei-an teach you?” “I cannot tell. There was nothing secret; it is simply that one cannot quantitatively tell.” No, friends, there is nothing secret.

Theosophy teaches that there are seven planes in existence, but theosophists, like nearly all metaphysicians, have no understanding from direct experience, and so treat these planes as if they are so many mental adjuncts. Whether there are seven or any other number of planes or bodies is of small importance. What is important is what man has experienced, and how, and whence. The true Dharma is one of experience, which must be repeated over and over again. The pagoda is a symbol of the phases of non-temporal existence.

When we had left Daikokuji, the great Zen center of Kyoto, Okuda-san remarked: “I have never met a more beautiful Western woman.” When a woman has this “pagoda“ development, she becomes so luminous that even highly advanced Zen monks have been “tempted,“ as one can read in Zen tales. Mrs. Sasaki is, to me and others, a true Bodhisattva, and not a fictional walker on any “razor’s edge.“

Suzukis may come and Salingers go, but friends, if you are near New York City, you should visit the First Zen Institute. Occasional visits show the remarkable development in Dharma of those who are curious or sincere, and who do not determine their spiritual future by leaning on anybody else.

Nunc dimitti les Beatniks.1

There was once an artist named Sabro Hasegawa living in San Francisco, and he had rooms in the then prospering American Academy of Asian Studies. I told him that Nyogen Senzaki had taught me seven forms of laughter. He said: “Come here sometime when nobody is around, and I’ll show you the Eighth Form of Laughter.” It turned out so, and by the prajna—that universal impersonal communion communication—this aspect of the Dharma was awakened.

Alas, my friends, Sabro soon left this world; the Academy no longer flourishes; the “experts“ lecture or write books on “Zen,“ but not on the laughter, nor the prajna, nor the communion, nor the Dharma.

The laughter was also part of the entry to Japan. Someday it may be possible to write “Advice to Diplomats,” but this would be useless in a world that proclaims Christianity and confines “love“ not so much to sex, as to a very narrow portion even of sex, so that, instead of love (in a true sense) being much vaster than sex, sex in any sense has come to be much greater than “scribe-love.“ With the banner of “Galilean thou hast conquered,” the scribes and Pharisees have long taken over the religion and the vocabulary.

While metaphysicians lecture about “synchronicity,” it was interesting that, on the day of my arrival in Japan, the first Sesshu exhibition opened. Sesshu was one of the greatest, if not the greatest of Japanese Zen artists. Sabro had lectured interminably on him, and yet it was my fortune to be at the opening of this show, and to enjoy it to the full.

While metaphysicians lecture about “synchronicity,” it was also my experience to have my friend Okuda-san reach the dock at the exact moment the ship entered it. And so with him, or without him, every moment in Japan was synchronous. We visited together the Imperial Palace Grounds and the Sojiji Temple at Tsurumi, between Yokohama and Tokyo.

We came upon Sojiji in an interesting manner. Instead of taking the train, four of us Americans joined to take a taxi to Tokyo, and we stopped to look at the grounds of this center of Soto School Zen. “How do you feel?” “I feel very strange.” “That is not unusual; you are in a strange country.” “But that is not why I feel strange. I feel strange because I do not feel strange. I feel I have come home. I know these trees, this landscape, the surroundings. I know the people, the ceremonies, the robes. The only thing I do not know is the language.”

As we left, I said to Okuda-san: “This was an omen.” “What is an omen?” I explained. And it was so, and he lived to see it, to penetrate to places not usually open to tourists or Japanese. But, as Edna St. Vincent Millay has beautifully put it:

“The world stands out on every side

No wider than the heart is wide.”


On the next day we took the Pigeon bus and stopped at Akusaka. There was the smoke-baptism at the temple of Kwannon, and the police must have taken notes. Soon I had a most favorable dossier and a glorious tour.

We next visited the Nishi Honganji Temple in Tokyo, and when they learned that their visitor knew about the Pure Land (too seldom taught to us in America), we received all kinds of invitations. A free Nohdrama performance; free flower-arrangement exhibitions, real tea ceremonies. Just where does Zen begin and where does it end? My friends, we must learn that the Oriental is not, has never been, an Aristotelian analyst.

Later on, Mrs. Sasaki sent us to Philip Karl Eidmann, then staying in Kyoto, a living Bodhisattva if I have ever met one. He explained the relation of the different schools and sects to one another. I am only hoping that he is selected, if he has not been already, to instruct Americans about Buddhism.

The Nishi Hoganji Temple at Kyoto, where Professor Eidmann resided in 1956, contains one of the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen and some of the most exemplary art work. There also was a form of sudden-prajna experience of a different order. When the self ceases as a discrete being, the whole universe may be opened before us. This was a teaching of Lord Buddha. This is inherent in the actual Dharma. True Buddhism is based on the experiences of life, and perhaps pure religion in every form is experience, from very simple, emotional types to union-with-the-All wherein oneself is not.

Later, when we visited Sojiji, we met the Roshi, who immediately gave instructions in Zen. Instructions? The pagoda-communication, or communion, is not a dualism between one and another. Theosophists, those who affirm there are seven planes, are liable to treat these planes as a chess-board, or the Alice-in-the-Looking-Glass experience. Neither are they like the Hanging Gardens of ancient Babylon, which symbolized them. Each phase transcends the lower one, and all six planes belong to a wheel-of-life (not necessarily a wheel as ordinarily depicted). The finite in consciousness does not grasp the infinite any more than school arithmetic grasps the infinite of multiple integration. Analysis, one must repeat, has no part in it, and no German philosopher, no matter how erudite, ever touched it.

It was my privilege in Japan to be introduced to the Kegon, Kobo Daishi Shingon, and Shingi Shingon teachings; to visit the Royal Cemetery and, ultimately, the Imperial Grounds and Imperial Botanical Gardens, the outer semblances of inner union. When a biography or autobiography is published, the details may be supplied. We have set up too many barriers, or, rather, we have permitted exotics to set up too many barriers before us, to enter into proper communion with Asians. The Vietnam complex is only one phase of it. When The Encyclopedia of Buddhism is published, we shall find how much we have been led astray.2

1A declaration of willingness or joy at the prospect of departing from life or from some occupation.

2This massive alphabetically indexed work has still not been fully published. For example, volume 5, which includes a biography of Phra Sumangalo, has not yet been published.



Zen and Chan in Contemporary America


“Buddhism, however, is not simply a science.

It is a creative vital religion.”

                —The Soto Approach to Zen by Professor Reiho Masunaga


The Soto Approach to Zen has been published, no doubt, because Japanese have discovered that books with the word “Zen“ sell in America. Why not give them some real books by real Zennists? As he later says: “Zen does not ultimately depend on Buddhist sutras.” It is not to be inferred that Zen depends in any way on books, speeches and discussions of anybody—as the contemporary mania implies.

Master Shako Soyen introduced The Sutra of Forty-Two Chapters. This is one of the sacred works of the Vietnamese Buddhists, over whom we are so concerned without trying to find out what they believe, what they really want. The Sutra of Forty-Two Chapters is a marvelous work, based on cosmic evolution, the same cosmic evolution which is presented in the early Upanishads—the doctrine that there is one universe, one Dharma, one infinity.

This and related scriptures allude to or describe the grades in advancement and the morals and metaphysics concerned with these grades. Also one finds there is need to have a teacher, and in practice the “reward“ is so much greater, and yet, in a sense, there is no teacher.

The closest approach to teacher-less Zen today may be found in the works of Paul Reps. He came into focus through Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, a work in which he partly collaborated with the late Nyogen Senzaki. But Reps has also added a very valuable translation from India, which those who have gone through real Yoga disciplines (not lectures, my friends) may comprehend.

Reps has then gone off and given us his fruits in art, in poetry, in literature. You can read the Chinese Ch’an literature of “no mind.“ All of Paul Reps’ recent works seem to offer examples of it. He is, therefore, much better known to actual students of Zen than to the scholars and public-lecture-wallahs.

The rise of the World Buddhist Federation has not yet brought all the Buddhist schools, sects and communities (i.e. Sanghas) into full cooperation. Here Madame Nhu is indirectly assisting them without intention. If you go to the First Zen Institute in New York City (Waverly Place) you may find Chinese joining in meditation, studying and even instructing. If you go the temples in San Francisco (Waverly Place) however, you will find Chinese and Americans, but not many Japanese.

As I have not been to the Islands, I cannot write about them. Reverend Hunt has held the fort, so to speak, for years, but has run into the same snag, that Japanese and Chinese do not always cooperate. Even worse, the Rinzai and Soto Schools in the Islands have not always been willing to work together. The same is unfortunately true in Los Angeles. But Zen shows every promise of growing and growing and growing on the Islands, and the “false heads“ have not gained such a foothold there.

In Los Angeles (where Nyogen Senzaki once had a flourishing zendo, or rather, passed through innumerable vicissitudes of rise and fall) Bishop Yamada has established a Meditation Hall and a Sangha so much in accord with the writer’s wishes and dreams that too much praise can hardly be lavished. But such praise does not always communicate. I only hope that curious or sincere seekers will visit the place.

The corresponding Soto Zendo is now flourishing also in San Fancisco’s Japanese district. The development of knowledge of Dharma by these people is truly remarkable, especially as they have been exposed to so many “false heads.“ Satori is not an idle word or hyperbolic ideal here.

There is one note common to the zendos of New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles which we have visited. The membership is composed largely of comparatively young people; in another age, it was elderly women and a few young men who attended sessions. There seem to be more men than women, but this is a minor point. There is a freshness and ebullience among the upasakas and upasikas, (male and female disciples) a developed wit, élan vital, and a noticeable freedom from the social vices of the day. Indeed, they stand out alike in contrast to the churches, the metaphysical groups and the sybarites who throng in large cities.

A combination of circumstances has pushed the Chinese from lethargy. Their printing press in Taiwan is publishing a compendium of scriptures which rivals, if it does not outrank, Goddard’s The Buddhist Bible. It is also noticeable that Ch’an, from which Zen is derived, plays a part in all efforts.

The Buddha Universal Church in San Francisco is a remarkable institution. It started with a small plot of land, a foundation, a debt and thirty willing workers, only one of whom was a skilled craftsman. It ended with a beautiful contemporary building which the famous architects Campbell and Wong designed, and a history of achievement that’s a remarkable manifestation of the words of the Bible:

“Except the Lord build the house,

they labor in vain that build it.”

                —(Psalm 127:1)

It is not surprising, therefore, that many clergymen have visited the place, before and since, but they do not seem to have learned that secret of “The Lord buildeth the house.” While we say Buddhists do not believe in God (which may or may not be true, or it may be both true and untrue, or it may be neither true nor untrue), they have the “secret“ of ego-surrender, and in this is all wisdom.

Dr. Paul Fung is Vice President of the World Buddhist Federation, a selection, alas, not recognized much by the press or institutions in America, and this has led to some bizarre events, not necessary to relate. But here, again, the melodramatic events in Vietnam may incite a few to honest curiosity about the nature of Buddhism and Buddhistic organizations.

The Universal Church emphasizes “Pristine Dharma,” and in many parts of the world, perhaps in the whole universe of Mahayana Buddhism, this is posited. But no one seems to be presenting it to the public, except in the temples around Nara in Japan. The original Buddhism is said to be contained in the largest set of scriptures in existence, and these scriptures posit a cosmic monism. This monism is nothing but an extension of the Sanskrit tat tvam asi (literally, “that thou art“) and, therefore, justly merits the name of Arya Dharma, which was the word Lord Buddha himself used. It is time to restore both these words and the true Buddhist doctrine if we are going to have doctrines at all.

The Buddha Universal Church stresses “The Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch” and “The Diamond Sutra,” which belong to the Prajna Paramita School, i.e., the obtaining of perfect wisdom-enlightenment through direct immediate experience.

While the Buddha Universal Church has meetings, the direct experience itself is manifested through one Master To-Lun, who has now established his own meditation halls. He has published a little brochure labeled “The Remarkable Events of Dhyana Teach To-Lun.” This brochure is doubly remarkable.

In the first place, it gives out what the writer believes are the actual experiences of life in an unabashed but quite egoless fashion. The Master is a child, and yet a sage. And it is time to have someone put on paper the experiences of inner life, just as we put on paper the experiences of outer life.

The second remarkable thing about this brochure is that Master To-Lun, in writing it, has broken every precedent, every dictum, every rule laid down unequivocally by a mob of untrained intellectual, metaphysical, speculative authors, lecturers and self-esteemed authorities who have never penetrated to the depths of Dharma, or mysticism.

If there be any question here, one has only to meditate in the presence of the Master to experience peace, power, bliss and virtue—possibly more.

With the Master doing things so contradictory to the “false heads,“ and with Roshi Sogen Asahina speaking with such fervor and acceptance of Jesus Christ and God, we may close this section. We commend, however, all Buddhist literature, even though not commending many books about it.

Namotasa Bhagavado Arahato Samma Sambuddhasa! (Salutations to the perfect one, the wholly enlightened one, the most supreme Buddha!)



Sufis: The Lotus People of Islam


“Sufism (divine wisdom) consists of experiences and not premises.”

            —Al Ghazzali


“Toward the One, the Perfection of Love, Harmony and Beauty, the Only Being,

United With All the Illuminated Souls Who Worm the Embodiment of the Master,

the Spirit of Guidance.”

            —Invocation of Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan


As one writes this section, the government of mainland China is sending emissaries to Sudan, and we shiver. What do we know of the people of Sudan, especially their religion? The people of Sweden are Christian, and the people of Portugal are Christian, and many people in Lebanon are Christian, and what have they in common? The people of Sudan are largely Muslims, but what kind of Muslims?

Americans have been called, dear ones, “a nation of sheep,” but one wonders if the carping critics know even as much as those who are the butts of their pens and tongues. It is awful to say: “Fifty-million Frenchmen can’t be wrong; Fifty-million Dervishes cannot be.” The majority of the Sudanese appear to be members of Dervish Orders, and you can scan The Encyclopedia of Islam and will know very little.

The Chinese may be going into the Sudan with some knowledge of the actual faith of the actual people, and we of the United States sending forth our U.S.I.A. (U.S. Information Agency) what do we know of them?

At one time in my life, I spent hours with a member of the Senussi family who lived in Santa Monica, California. He told me of the training and discipline he and all members of his family had to undergo. My Sufi friend described his background simply, directly and clearly. But you can read all the works by all the Englishmen and Europeans to whom we turn when we want to do “research“ on Sufism, and there will be no resemblance to what my friend described. The living men, the living institutions, have remained a closed book.

Another time, I was in Cairo and a delegation of Dervishes came to my room. They gave credentials. You can read about this in The Dervishes by J. P. Brown, a very, very, authentic book written by an American who visited the Dervishes while in Foreign Service. He was not a linguist, or, if he was, does not mention it. He visited the Dervishes and took down notes on what they told him. The principles hold as much weight today as in the nineteenth century, or maybe even in the ninth century. And if you had read this book and had not scanned a line by all the British and European scholars, you would have understood it. Anyhow, the Dervishes said: “The Russians are 100% materialist, you Americana are 50% materialist, we are 0% materialist; the Russians are 100% dialectic, you Americana are 50% dialectic, we are 0% dialectic; the Russians are 100% atheist, you Americans are 50% atheist, we are 0% atheist. You can see we are far more against the Russians and communists than you are, and yet you do not even recognize our existence. This, in Cairo, in 1960, where the American University teaches about the same sort of thing concerning Dervishes as the Ku Kluxers teach about the Jews.

You can go to Karachi and call at the Iraqi Embassy and meet the venerable Abdul Kadiri Gilani, the head by primogeniture of one of the most famous Sufi families in the world, whose kinfolk have even served in ministries in his country, and whose relatives perform remarkable services all over the world. Or you can look up the history of our own Ambassador Henry Grady, whose widow still plays a great part in California affairs; they associated with the late Pir-o-Murshid Hasan Nizami, whose tomb is at the Dargah of Nizam-ud-din Auliya in New Delhi, a Sufi with a tremendous following.

One can give objective evidence after objective evidence; yet, here in America, nearly all our sources in Islamic studies are non-American, non-Muslims, and we wonder why we are not admired abroad. No man, just by studying German, would become, automatically, a specialist in Goethe or Helmholz or Haeckel; no man, just by studying French, would become an expert on the Carnot or Poincare or other great families. But a linguist, especially a British or European linguist, becomes automatically the interpreter for the religions, the philosophies and the “wisdom“ of the Orient, often when he has not even visited the country involved.

Communists and other anti-Americans have taken advantage of this. Today, we are fortunate in having courses on Malay culture (including that of Indonesia) given at the University of California in Los Angeles and Arabic culture taught by Dr. Sharabi in Washington and Maryland. But these are among the few bright spots in our whole country. I have read many reviews of magazines and articles concerning the Near East, and, at this time, most of the critics are excellent scholars, ensconced in fine universities, far, far away from the scenes of their subject matter.

Once, after being publicly denounced (and quite successfully, too) by one of our European “experts“ on this subject, I was suddenly hailed by a group of Indonesians. “We are Dervishes and, therefore, your spiritual brothers, and we are giving a tea in your honor. Please come.” This has happened over and over, my dears, “world without end,“ and this, book is written in hopes that some people will look into realities so that we can have communication, if not communion and brotherhood, with exotic peoples.

If you study Iranian culture, you will learn about many, many poets and find that their theme was invariably love. Not, of course, the “love“ that is paraded in our magazines and daily press, but a “love“ that may well be identical with what Jesus Christ has taught. But if you read only the works of our British friends and they have a few excellent interpreters and translators you may conclude that this “love“ was a thing of the past, of a thousand years ago, just as much popular “Zen“ literature places all the wisdom a thousand years ago.

Al-Ghazzali has told us that Sufism, tasawwuf, is based on experience, not on logic. You can take a dozen courses in Islamic “philosophy“ and be kept in the realm of dialectics and speculation. No man, reading Helmholz or Haeckel in the original, becomes thereby a scientist, or even an authority on science. Some American scholars have done a remarkable job in the translation of the Muqaddimah of Ibn Khaldûn, but that only makes them authorities on Oriental wisdom in the West. In the Orient, they would be questioned about their personal experiences, just as the scientist wants to know what have been your experiences.

Therefore, it is difficult for the Dervish to write here, for he wants to hold out heart-love to everybody and he is not, even yet, able to present his views in our halls of culture.

There is an excellent book, A Moslem Saint of the Twentieth Century (Sheikh Ahmad Al-‘Alawi) by one Martin Lings, published by Allen & Unwin and the University of California Press, which must be recommended. This man went to North Africa, visited people and places and recorded his findings. He has dared to criticize some of the authorities whom we in America still hold as authorities. And, best of all, at the end of the book he gives the chain of descent (silsila) of the Saint he refers to in his title. This book is as authentic on Sufism as is The Voyage of the Beagle or the writings of Einstein on the sciences.

A Moslem Saint of the Twentieth Century supports the traditions that Sufism is based on experience, that the basic type of experience can be traced back to Mohammed, the Messenger of God, and that similarities and identities in various writings are not the result of borrowing from other religions.

In Cosmic Consciousness, Dr. Bucke has endeavored to show that the “God-experience“ is independent of time and space. I can assure you, friends, that the “awakening“ in any faith does not depend, has no relation to, a study of any other faith. The Absolute Universe (very bad words) is neither describable nor restrictable by anyone who has not experienced it; indeed, it may not be describable or restrictable by one who has.

Wordsworth did not write his poetry after a study of Oriental mysticism. Yet, today, we have the strange idea that Sufis “borrowed“ elements of philosophy and experience which often appear in Islamic literature, even though these elements predate the cultures from which they supposedly borrowed. Yes, there are some resemblances; yes there must be many resemblances. Inventors have independently come about the same ideas; Wallace did not borrow from Darwin nor Darwin from Wallace. If this is so, on a scientific plane, why may it not be more so in a grand pluriverse, or universe?

Indeed, it can be questioned whether there is anything in Sufism, from any angle, which cannot be traced, somehow or other, back to Mohammed. Ignorance and prejudice has permitted us to praise some Sufis, or at least their poetry, and condemn Mohammed.

We have, today, three sorts of people writing articles on Mohammed:

a) The Islamic apologists, who begin by regarding everything as perfect; confuse the missions of Mohammed, Adam and Abraham and ignore the past; cannot explain why a wise Allah, who permitted early Muslims to be the arbiters of civilizations, later permitted non-Muslims (in their own restricted interpretations) to bring culture, invention and humanism.

b) Then there are those who pass on that the Prophet and his successors offered “The Qur’an or the Sword,” which is not borne out by history. A majority of the subjects in India remained followers of Hinduism; a majority of the subjects in the European section of the Turkish Empire remained Christians. Even Moorish Spain permitted minority groups at a time when Christianity could not understand the idea.

Selfishly, monarchs realized they could collect more taxes from non-Muslims; conversion often meant a lessening of the accumulations in their coffers. Common sense led to the policies of the not too tolerant Aurungzeb in India; but the parrots repeat and mislead. Nobody has been able to point to the passage, “The Qur’an or the Sword.” But it stands. You will see it in the newspapers occasionally; even in the midst of the so-called “Cold War,“ editors do not refrain from calling exotic peoples fanatics.

c) Intellectuals are too charmed by the social revolution which accompanied the rise of Islam to be drawn into either of these camps, one might say, of bigots. We are constantly having interpretations and re-interpretations of the biography of the Prophet of Mecca. And yet all of them seem to overlook some of the simplest records which appear in the Hadith (The Sayings of Mohammed). Here are some extracts1:

“He dieth not who giveth life to learning.”

“Charity that is concealed appeaseth the wrath of God.”

“They will enter the Garden of Bliss who have a true, pure and merciful heart.”

“No man is true in the truest sense of the word but he who is true in word, in deed and in thought. “

“Whoever is kind to His creatures, God is kind to him; therefore be kind to man on earth, whether good or bad; and being kind to the bad is to withhold him from badness, so that those who are in Heaven may be kind to you.”

“To the light have I attained and in the light I live.”

“Mankind will not go astray after having found the right road, unless from disputation.”

“The greatest enemies of God are those who are entered into Islam, and do acts of infidelity, and who, without cause, shed the blood of man.”

“He who seeth me seeth the Truth.”

“The most excellent jihad (Holy War) is that for the conquest of self.”

“Go in quest of knowledge even unto China.”

“When the bier of anyone passeth you, whether Jew, Christian, or Muslim, rise to thy feet. “

“One learned man is harder on the devil, than a thousand ignorant worshippers.”

“The desire for knowledge is a divine commandment for every Muslim; and to instruct in knowledge those who are unworthy of it is like putting pearls, jewels, and gold on the necks of swine.”

“Abusing a Muslim is disobedience to God; and it is infidelity to fight with one.”


One can quote aphorisms endlessly. But there are two most obvious conclusions:

1. The Mohammed of his own words has not been reflected in many of the biographies, and still less in the hands and lives of those who think they are communicating by writing books in which self-praise is more obvious than God-praise.

2. Mohammed challenged his rivals to produce another Qur’an. One can challenge bigots and critics to produce a mentally ill person who could join such nobility.

Nothing is gained here by arguing, even with the presentation of tomes of facts. The personality of Mohammed does stand out in Sufism somewhat as Buddha stands—that point is not going to be argued here. The Sufi culture is that of heart-awakening and heart-development. Fundamentally, it may not be too different from heart-awakening and heart-development elsewhere, but it does center more or less around the character of Mohammed.

The ultimate teaching of Buddhism was that nirvana could be found in the mist of samsara. If this be true, then the ordinary life would also be the life of perfection. One hears everywhere that “Zen is everyday life.” Mohammed lived the everyday life, and fulfilled it in the most common-place ways—gathering fuels, cooking food, performing menial tasks, and not depending on servants or slaves when he could do work himself.

Every Sura (chapter) of Qur’an begins, “Bismillah Er-Rahman Er-Rahim;” which is to say that the whole universe, the whole creation, is an undertaking of rahmat, or compassion. Islam, then, is the surrender which makes us aware of this compassion. When I devoted a chapter of this book to the problem of evil, it was because the self, ego, or nufs, blinds us alike to rahmat and to truth (hikmat).

As, today, we want the truth manifested in science and art, the Sufi wants the truth manifested in his internal life to illustrate this, as well as his external life. An incident may be related.

I was in Muree, which is on a western spur of the Himalayas in Pakistan. Syed Mahdoodi, regarded as one of the cultured champions of Islamic conservatism, had come to visit the Pir of Dewwal Shereef. This man may be known as Naqib, one who acts as an external spokesman for the mystical brotherhoods. The two men had held profoundly different opinions and each seemed rather adamant.

Each had a large following, and there was some uneasiness in Pakistan as to the exact nature of “Islam.“

They debated for two hours. At the end of that time, the barrister came from the class-room and sat down on a bench with me (we had not met before): “My whole life is ruined. I have been wrong in everything. All my writings are wrong. All my teachings and contentions are wrong. I have been mistaken in everything. I am ruined.” He burst into tears—this from a once proud and self-reliant man.

“Nothing is wrong, nobody has been ruined. Allah is the Most Merciful and Compassionate, and All-Wise and All-Loving. You have been calling yourself a “Muslim,“ but you did not know how to surrender in anything. You demanded, you did not concede, you did not surrender. Until this moment you have not had the slightest idea of what peace is or means. Now you have surrendered for the first time and yourself become a submissive one and, being a submissive one, you have become a Muslim, Alhamdu lillah.” (Praise to God).

You need not conclude, my friends, that many, or all, or any, Muslims are like that. We must not repeat the error of another generation by condemning a religion or culture because of ego-subjective objections. There are Islamic missions today which ignore the moral precepts above quoted, which turn their back on knowledge of any kind, and these missions have, by sell-centered attitudes, held back interest in Islam in foreign lands.

Our own J. P. Brown has indicated that Sufis have a grand Brotherhood. The wonderful lady diplomat, Gertrude Bell, with Sufi cooperation, brought some order out of anarchy in the Near East, especially in Iraq. As the Chinese penetrate Sudan, we may be compelled to examine the nature of its people and the faith of its leaders. As “socialism“ spreads through North Africa, in self-defense, if not for other reasons, we shall have to look into the nature and activities of the Dervish orders.

We either spurn these people or call them “fanatics,“ and as new governments arise, they do not love us. Whose fault is it?

1 From The Sayings of Muhammad, edited by Muhammad Amin, Barrister, Lahore, West Pakistan.



Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan


Late in 1919, I found myself very suddenly standing before a lady in an office loft in San Francisco. The lady was Murshida Rabia A. Martin, a qualified Sufi teacher and senior disciple of one Inayat Khan, whom I was blessed to meet later on. The term “murshid“ means director, or teacher. Rabia was the name of a great woman saint of Iraq whose tomb has been visited by many people for over a thousand years.

Earlier studies and researches had brought me to the conclusion that common interpretations of religion were either incomplete or incorrect; there must be some deeper meanings in them. Murshida Martin then took me on three journeys:

a. The mysticism of the Old Testament

b. The esoteric study of Comparative Religion

c. The Sufic discipline

But, though disciplined, she encouraged investigations into the mysticisms of all faiths and was a good friend of Dr. Kirby; as her teacher, the Pir-o-Murshid, later became a good friend of Nyogen Senzaki.

Among the Sufis, ishk (love), ilm (wisdom), and shahud (direct experience) avail. As has been said, “Sufism consists of experiences and not premises.” Historically, Sufis came later than other schools of mysticism, and, both historically and esoterically, they can be traced to and through Mohammed. But, as Professor Titus Burkhardt has pointed out, one does not learn mysticism or esotericism except through direct experience. In the future I hope that the mystic will be as available to lecture on mysticism as is the physicist today to inform the public of the latest developments in science, or as the biologist is called upon at all times to explain his knowledge.

It is not our place here to write a biography. The family of the Pir-o-Murshid has continued to see that his books are published, and perennially there are short or longer sketches on his life and personality1. Havelock Ellis was, in his time, somewhat critical of the Sufi, but Havelock Ellis never seems to have evaluated fully his own earlier experiences, as depicted in The Dance of Life. Anyhow, you get one view of the Murshid from the West and another view from the East. Both are undoubtedly correct and need to be integrated.

Hazrat Inayat Khan was born in Baroda state, in India, to a family of musicians. This family was also long associated with Sufis and, largely through the art of music, the mystics of Islam and Hinduism had mingled and intermingled, each making impressions on the others. The first biography of Hazrat Inayat Khan appeared in his own Confessions of a Sufi Teacher, now partly contained in Volume XII of The Sufi Message book series. Later biographies contain more details, and also omit more.

Hazrat Inayat Khan came to America in 1911 and gave the bayat (initiation) to Mrs. Ada Martin, who immediately became a Murshid, or teacher, with the sobriquet of “Rabia.“ He entrusted her with a considerable body of teaching which was not, however, put to general usage, for, after establishing himself in London, he began to systematize his work.

In his early days, the teachings were based on two interconnected methods. One has to do with Zikr (remembrance), and this involves a long series of disciplines and practices called ryazat, all of them having for their purpose the remembrance of God at all times, in all places, under all circumstances. Perhaps, in some form or other, all the Sufi and Dervish Orders utilize ryazat. In America and especially among the ignorant, both Dervish and Zikr have been identified or confused with the bizarre methods of the Mevlevi School of “Whirling Dervishes.“ The other method was in self-effacement, called fana. Fana has three distinct grades or stages: fana-fi-Sheikh, fana-fi-Rassoul, and fana-fi-Lillah. In fana-fi-Sheikh, one practices self-effacement by holding the ideal of the living teacher before him and practicing whatever has been imparted to him. It can go on indefinitely. At the same time, the experiences of Sufism carry one through what are called states (of consciousness) and stages (of evolution) or “stations.“ The actual words for these are found in the Bible, but they lost their meaning when the Hebrew was limited to its Greek equivalent.

The writer believes that we will never exploit the Bible to the full until we know all the grades and meanings of the ancient Hebrew, and not just the limited significance of the nearest Greek equivalents. The scholars limited the Bible because they did not have the cosmic experiences of the prophets. And, in a similar way, the linguists and metaphysicians who have offered interpretations of Oriental mysticism have also failed to grasp the significance.

One of the most usual errors of linguists and metaphysicians is to derive the Sufic fana from the Sanskrit nirvana. Both do involve the elimination of ego or separatedness. But there have been many mystics in all parts of the world at all times and often they have never heard of each other, nor is there any need therefor.

Fana-fi-Rassoul means effacement in the human ideal. To most of all Sufis, this ideal is Mohammed, but even Mohammed takes on various meanings until one reaches the interpretations offered by Ibn al’Arabi and Abd-al-karim Jili (in his The Perfect Man). And fana-fi-Lillah means effacement in the universal, or beyond name-and-form, or the direct experience of God.

All of these were and are living experiences of which there are many examples and exponents, but there is a strange chasm between them and the intellectuals who are busy translating or interpreting. Even the erudite Encyclopedia of Islam is faulty or misleading in many of its articles, and those who lean too much upon it may go astray.

Pir-o-Murshid was first given bayat in the Chisti School, which bases spiritual development on music. Its chief center is at Ajmir, India, where the celebrated Moin-ed-din Chisti is interred. But by the time he left India, Inayat Khan had received training in what may be called “Four School Sufism,” which is to say, in the Chisti, Kadiri, Sohrawardi, and Naqshibandi Schools. The Sufism that was presented to the West was basically a synthesis of these.

Hazrat Inayat Khan went to Europe at the invitation of celebrated composers such as Debussy and Scriabine, and for some time carried on the dual career of musician and spiritual teacher. During World War I, his headquarters were at London, but, afterwards, they were transferred to Geneva, Switzerland, and much of his time was spent between there and Suresnes, near Paris, France. He visited the United States in 1923 and 1926, returned to Europe, then went to India, where he died in February 1927.

My meeting with this man was a wonder. It was preceded by certain types of dreams and visions which our Western culture must someday learn to re-evaluate and explain. I then had a more cosmic experience of union which seems to be common to certain types of mystics. But when I entered the room to meet Inayat Khan (1923), there was no man there, only a great body of light.

The “pneumatic” body is mentioned in the Bible in First Corinthians. The “solar body” has been discussed by G. R. S. Meade. One can read about these things in various works associated with different religions, whose authors are sometimes unaware that such experiences may be universal. One does not wish to be quoting scriptures. Protest has already been made that the Zen-experience is not bound in enigmatic stories of Chinese of a thousand years ago; neither is Sufism limited to the translation of mystical prose and poetry by Orientalists. Both Zen and Sufism are timeless, and the meeting of Nyogen Senzaki and Inayat Khan has already been described.

Hazrat Inayat Khan was not the first man authorized to present Sufism in English, but he seems to have been the first to do something effectively. The famous Sir Richard Burton had been appointed as a Murshid, and some Muslims expected him to become a missionary. But certainly, common religion of any sort did not appeal to him.

It is not the place here to argue about Cosmic Monism. Every now and then, some of the Orthodox who call themselves “Muslims” declare, “Away with Plotinus, back to Mohammed.” But there is nothing in actual Sufism to indicate strong connections with Neo-Platonism. The mystic is not the metaphysician, and experience—it cannot be repeated too often—is far from speculative philosophies.

Hazrat Inayat Khan taught us that religion has three stages: faith, love and knowledge. So long as religion remains bound to faith and proceeds no further, it can be caught in the web of egocentricity. We have plenty of literature concerning love, and plenty of literature that has arisen because of love. The lesson to be learned here is to extract love from time and link it to eternity. And when we become aware of this eternity, we begin to have the real knowledge (marifat).

The other aspect of Sufism besides that of Cosmic Monism (tauhid, ahadiat), is that of the acceptance of a Spiritual Hierarchy. This has not only been presented by J. P. Brown in his The Darvishes but also by E. W. Lane, who was a pioneer Orientalist. As the intellectuals took over the teaching of Orientalia, this aspect of Sufism has been ignored. And yet, it is this aspect of Sufism which unites all the Orders, on the one hand, and separates them from the generality of Muslims, on the other.

There is plenty of material in Sufic literature regarding the saints. Even in this age, books are being published concerning men who have lived in the twentieth century.

Here we come to another great division between the Sufis and what has been called “Islamic Philosophy,” stemming mostly from Europeans. Practically all Sufis regard either Hazrat Ali or Abdul Kadir-i-Jilani of Bagdad as the greatest of saints. True, Moin-ed-din Ibn al’Arabi declared he might be the “seal of the saints,“ or his commentators have said so. But throughout the length and breadth of the Islamic world, these two, Hazrat Ali and Abdul Kadir-i-Jilani, stand out. Not only is this so in popular opinion, but also in the occult experiences and it is hoped that someday the West will become interested in the active, living occultism of all parts of the world.

The general teachings given by Hazrat Inayat Khan were first mentioned in an early work of his called A Sufi Message of Spiritual Liberty. All of his instruction was a detailed expansion of what appears in this work. It covers, in outline, many facets of mysticism and spiritual development. But, of course, it is at best a sort of laboratory manual; it is not even a cook-book.

In 1925, I had a complete breakdown, went into the wilderness and there experienced a number of visions and states of consciousness quite common to Sufis. At some later date, it may be that a complete compendium of mysticism and occultism will be offered to the world. On the bare face of it, it would seem that there is no more or less reason to hide such phenomena from the public than for Isaac Newton or Faraday or Darwin to hide the results of their experiments. Indeed, the Turkish Evfleki wrote The Lives of the Saints concerning the founders and early teachers of the Mevlevi School of Dervishes; the French copy of this was read by the writer while in Cleveland, Ohio (from the White Memorial Library). Even without any additions of later times, it would be well for psychologists and others to scan such literature and stop a lot of nonsense about “epileptics“ and “cataleptics“ who give us cosmic literature.

The experiences of 1925 were explained by Pir-o-Murshid when he visited Los Angeles in 1926, and a number of confidences were given, largely drawn therefrom. Hazrat Inayat Khan’s death the following year saw the disintegration of the Sufi Movement and the efforts of personalities who had not gone through the higher mystical stages to take over leadership. In this they failed, though, at this writing, his son, Vilayat Inayat Khan, is making a valiant effort to restore the Movement.

My own journey in fana-fi-Sheikh began on February 5, 1930, exactly three years after his death, when the Pir-o-Murshid appeared to me and helped me “from the other side” to write the commentaries on his esoteric works, i.e., his lessons for mureeds (initiated disciples). This was a provision in the constitution of the Sufi Order.

It is also an illustration of love. We love one another in so far as we are part of one another, or blended with one another. Indeed, love cannot have a definition; defined love is incomplete love, it is love’s shadow. When we become the other or as Jesus Christ said, “I am the vine and ye are the branches thereof”—this is the relation of the Teacher to the disciples, ever, always.

No doubt, during the coming years there may be more complete biographies of Hazrat Inayat Khan. But his followers must learn that there are many mystics, many Sufi teachers, and that not all mystics are Sufis, and that not all who call themselves “Sufis” or “Dervishes” are mystics. We must learn, all of us, that “In God we live, and move, and have our being.” (Acts 17:28)

1Vide literature, Barrie Rockliff, London. Inayat Khan’s oldest son, Vilayat, is now completing a biographical work to be published by Harper and Row; Kamila van Tricht Keesing, a Dutch woman, has also recently published a biography which will soon be released in English.



In Search of Sufis


“O people! be thankful to God for the good things possessed by you,

and consider them to have come from Him, because God has said,

‘The good things with you are from God.‘ You persons who derive

pleasure from the good things, ponder where is thankfulness.”

            —Abdul Kadir-i-Jilani (Ghaus-ul-Azam)


Despite the objective experiences of Lane and J. P. Brown and the weird adventures of Seabrook, there is a strange silence in academic circles on the subject of Sufis; or else, instead of there being the objectivity found among scientists, there is blind acceptance and parrot-like repetition of statements made by persons who have not traveled far and wide. If we used this method in seeking uranium and gold, we would be regarded as mad. Instead, one who uses the same method in seeking Sufis as one uses in seeking biological specimens is regarded as “mad.”

It was only in 1956, at the insistence of my friend Paul Reps (Saladin), that I went to Asia. The weirdest sort of experiences in Burma and East Pakistan led a succession of events in which both plane and hotel reservations did not go through, and in which I arrived in both countries on double bank holidays and could not get funds through ordinary channels.

In addition, when I arrived in Dacca my host had disappeared, and there I was in a strange land, not knowing how to proceed. A rikshuwallah took me to the U.S.I.S., and, though it was Sunday, the janitor who was there directed me to Shah Bagh Hotel. Thence I sought one Sophia Khan, a famous poetess and the aunt of one Mu’in Khan, whom I had known in the Stales. Her husband asked me it I wanted anything and I said I would like to meet Sufis.

In half an hour, I was in a courtyard filled with men of all sorts, and I was about to sit down when the gentleman next to me demanded: “Who is your Murshid?” “Pir-o-Murshid Sufi Inayat Khan.” “Just a moment….”

He turned away from me quite abruptly, stood up and said, “Brothers, there has just arrived in our midst a man from whose speech I judge is an American. He is a disciple of the late Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan, whose works you know I am now translating into Bengali. I think we should meet this American brother.”

Maulana Abdul Ghaffoor was the Chisti Pir-o-Murshid in Dacca. He had been a professional athlete, a champion football player, adept at other games, and had been manager of a stadium in Calcutta prior to partition. He had been suspected of being mixed up in politics and had to flee, leaving many members of his family behind.

Here again, one was struck with the very “unsaint-like” behavior of the Murshid. When I came into the courtyard, he was showing one of his disciples how to cast, what flies to use, and when. Perhaps there was something in it vaguely resembling Zen and the Art of Archery. Hazrat Inayat Khan’s invocation: “Toward the One,....” is equally Sufic and Zen. Maulana Abdul Ghaffoor displayed an ordinary and a majestic personality at the same time.

The 1956 visit to Dacca was like an elongated comic opera. Each day the Sufis gave me a bigger feast, then the Vedantists gave me a larger one. Then the Sufis invited me to an Islamic wedding, and, finally, there was a grand send-off dinner. The Islamic wedding scene stepped right out of the Bible and offered what our Christian missionary friends have seldom displayed. The humorous suggestion of bringing the pot-latch supper to that part of the world was thrown right back to me.

Perhaps it would not be fair to say I was overfed at the Islamic wedding. Guests were limited to one helping, then the servants, then the poor relations, then the poor from near and far, until all the food was gone. I understand about seven hundred persons partook thereof. Not only did we not see the bride, but the groom proved to be quite an unimportant person, a sort of dressed manikin on display. All the people came to see the Sufi teachers. I sat between the Chisti and Kadiri Pir-o-Murshids (Chief Spiritual Directors), so it happened I was not only greeted more than the groom, but even more than the respective fathers-in-law, who bore the brunt of the proceedings. Perhaps this was symbolic, for as life has developed, I have had the closest of relations with the teachers of these two Sufi Schools.

My departure from Dacca was most notable. I was accompanied by the army chief, Brigadier Ghulan Mohammed Khan; his aide, Captain (now Major) Mohammed Sadiq; Ansar Nasri of Radio Pakistan; Abdul Wahab, who was translating Inayat Khan’s works and who brought many associates; a delegation from Dacca University; and the whole income tax department. In the course of time, the first three named above have become my very close personal and spiritual friends.

From Dacca I went to Calcutta, only to visit various places connected with the Ramakrishna Mission and to go to the tomb of Dadajan. Dadajan was the father of Maulana Abdul Ghaffoor. He is reputed to have been Kutub, or head of the Spiritual Hierarchy recognized by all Dervish Orders. The symbol of Atlas holding the world on his shoulders gives a faint idea of the Kutub, who feels the responsibility for all the sorrows of the world—in other words, he is also Bodhisattva, but in another terminology.

My experience at the tomb of Dadajan is mentioned here for a purpose. No sooner had I started to pay my respects at the tomb, when the Saint manifested. “I have come to guide you through India.” And it so happened that, during the three months I spent in that country, I saw no snakes excepting in baskets, was bitten by no mosquitoes and came upon no vermin nor wild animals, though I climbed mountains in strange places and went off the beaten track. Nor was I even ill until the last week, and then only as the result of an enormous feast given by my spiritual brethren.

I am hoping, my friends, that this will awaken you to the reality of the existence of spiritual Islam, of disciples in Dervish Orders, of holy places and more. Whether one accepts the religion or not is unimportant; whether one favors or scorns sanctity is of no value. What I must convey is that these people, these places, do exist. Firsthand evidence about them should be thoroughly examined, instead of subjectivities propounded and even imposed by persons who have not visited strange lands.

The second aspect is just as important. We have, in the United States, all sorts of organizations purporting to be interested in various things called “psi“ phenomena and occultism. After Madame Currie discovered radioactivity, she tested all the known elements and found radioactivity in thorium. Later on, it was discovered that the strongly alkaline elements also emit beta-rays.

No such investigations have been made seriously in the “psi” fields. The mere discovery in any form of phenomena that may be so classified is often followed by campaigns for funds, and also the non-recognition of others so campaigning. Indeed, one man who has refused to admit the existence of Sufis and their faculties in such fields as clairvoyance, thought-transference, and ESP, has proposed joint “scientific” ventures with the Russians, of all people. Even if the Russian reports are accepted, and even if one regards them as true and valid, they have touched the surface of the deeper experiences of Asians, whom we have not yet learned to take to heart.

My next destination was New Delhi, which I have now visited many times, especially the compounds dedicated to the sainted Nizam-ud-din Auliya. New Delhi is a most important spiritual center, and it is visited not only by Muslims, but by mystics and devotees of all faiths. Both President Radhakrishnan and the so-called “atheist” Prime Minister Nehru hold it in high regard. From my own experience, this can be confirmed.

It is remarkable how that jeffersonian “atheist” who guides the destinies of India pays humble respects to holy days and holy places which are ignored by our press and even by our one-way street cultural representatives. In the “cold war” between Russia and the United States, India seems to be neutral; in another war between spirituality, represented by India, and atheism, represented by Russia, we are the neutrals. India is no more in line or out of line in its foreign policies than we are in line or out of line in recognizing a Living God who can be found in human experience.

Naturally, as one travels through India, one sees the Taj. But how many of us recognize that:

a. The Taj was built originally as the tomb of a Muslim lady.

b. The emperor Shah Jehan, who built it, was a disciple of Sufism.

c. Many of the craftsmen who took part in the undertaking were also disciples of tasawwuf.

This involves some deep investigation. In Zen, in true Yoga, in Sufism, the immediate act is the eternal one, taken for God, in His Presence, to His Glory and Beauty. I call the Taj, “The Face of Mohammed.” Without the Prophet, no such spiritual transmission, no such Emperor, no such building.

No doubt, in this glorious mountain of beauty, there may be an Italian or other European mole-hill. But the structure, the aesthetics and the landscaping are essentially Persian (or Iranian). In looking for Western details, the magnificence is obscured. There are even some hexagrams inlaid. How did they get there? from whom? by whom?

My friends, Persia, itself, became the homeland of a multitude of Sufis, and the Western world, ignoring Moin-ed-din Ibn al’ Arabi, ignoring Ibn Khaldun (who is now being resurrected), ignoring Sohrawardi Maktul, ignoring the tremendous culture of Bagdad, has succumbed to subjectivisms, assumed but not proved. The Sufis believe that Allah is everywhere. “Allah is closer than the vein of the neck.” (Mohammed) We must recognize this aphorism as being real even if we reject its substance.

Islam teaches that Allah has three types of attributes, which are classified as those of Perfection (Kemal), Power or Majesty (Jelal), and Beauty (Jemal). In the Taj we find the crystallization of the Jemalic faculties.

Not far from Agra, the site of Taj, is Fathepur Sikri, established by a mystic who, in his day, was one of the most wealthy, most powerful and most versatile of all men. He was quite well disciplined in tasawwuf, and his Pir-o-Murshid, Saint Selim Chisti, lived in that region. His tomb is now a site for pilgrimages; I have been there twice.

What is more notable than the sanctity of the place is the fact that, while many people have written commentaries on Akbar, disguised as biographies, while he has been lauded and berated, not one biographer or critic ever seems to have gone to Fathepur Sikri, called on the family of the Saint, and examined the historical records which, I was assured, have been kept intact through the centuries. These records are in Urdu, or possibly Persian; and I have been assured that an honest researcher would be cordially welcomed. (Incidentally, if “Kilroy“ has not been there and, of course, our European writers have not, Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy has, and caused quite a stir.)

One may read much about Akbar in historical works. One habit of his stands out whenever a dervish appeared in court, the Emperor got off the throne and called upon the holy man to sit thereon. This habit continued on and off. Indeed, some of the last scions of the Moguls, after 1857, became dervishes themselves.

Fathepur Sikri was the first effort toward establishing a “League of Nations,“ but of religions rather than political bodies. Most people have disapproved of this attempt at a universal religion or mysticism. In disapproving, they have overlooked two things:

a) The marvelous real tolerance and toleration at a time when this was unthought of elsewhere.

b) The substitution of national patriotism for religious orthodoxy to uphold statecraft.

Indeed, on many points, including character and versatility, Akbar and Thomas Jefferson would probably have enjoyed each other’s company.

By the time I had visited Fathepur Sikri, I was quite assured of the existence of Sufis and dervishes of all ranks, and a number of events have taken place since then which make for my personality an outlook and road which is irreversible. Nyogen Senzaki would quote John Tauler; even critics of Sri Ramakrishna were constantly comparing him with Jesus Christ (they did not compare their own reformers with him); people in high places today laud the lowly Kabir, but there is the common experience which should now be given some consideration.



Cosmic Consciousness


“Praise to be Thee, Most Supreme God, Omnipotent, Omnipresent,

All-Pervading, the Only Being.”

                —Hazrat Inayat Khan


Beloved Ones of God:

At this point it might be well to interject an essay, rather than a treatise or experience. Actually, the term “Cosmic Consciousness” has been adopted in a book by an American (Bucke) who knew Whitman, Emerson and, one may presume, Horace Traubel, who had such an experience. One must also refer to Edward Carpenter and his Toward Democracy, and to “Renascence” by Edna St. Vincent Millay. In the opposite mold is Logic and Mysticism by the early Bertrand Russell, who seems to have been motivated by a complete inability to understand Carpenter or even Mrs. Havelock Ellis.

All scriptures appear in some sense to have come, directly or indirectly, from this central experience, cosmic consciousness. One even finds traces, or more than traces, of it in the Greek and other mythologies. The search for the Golden Fleece may be, esoterically, an example of this. Even in our times we had the movie “The Thief of Bagdad” with its thesis, “Happiness must be earned.” The Pearl of Great Price may be a reality. Christ-consciousness is not an advertising slogan.

Even teen-age school boys wonder over the possible identity of the negative and positive infinities. Cassius Keyser went on further in his Pastures of Wonder to influence Count Korzybski, the giant of the semantic movement; but this influence has not penetrated into the consciousness of those calling themselves “general semanticists,“ who have been caught in the same web of delusion as the authors they reject. It is presumed that writers on scientific subjects, at least occasionally, if not always, have had laboratory experience.

The American Dr. Bucke has given us his Cosmic Consciousness. His acquaintance with Emerson, Whitman, Carpenter and Traubel gave him some living examples, though some of his work is speculative and some deductive. With three of these persons involved in socialism of some sort, and two of them being “homophile“ of some sort, more serious persons began to regard “cosmic consciousness“ as an oddity. This is still more true today, when many sorts of bizarre misbehavior are mislabeled.

Cosmic consciousness is an experience which either begins in love of some sort (e.g., Bhakti Yoga) or ends there. All scriptures appear to have come directly or indirectly from this milieu. The search for the Golden Fleece among the ancient Greeks symbolizes this. It is found in folklore all over the world. It is the Pearl of Great Price.

The discovery of radium upset the philistine physics; it did lead to the uncovering of latent properties, first in thorium and then in the alkaline-metals, and on to new sciences. The presence of Swami Vivekananda in his day and Swami Akhilananda in his has not so impressed philistine-psychology. Mortimer Adler, in confining his “Great Ideas” approach to the Western world alone, has been partially successful in hiding from the American public the reality of Dr. Sarvipalli Radhakrishnan, former President of the great republic of India.

The selection of Dr. Linus Pauling as Nobel Peace Prize winner may have caused a few people to look up to a man whose outlook is, perhaps, of a totally different order than those of most of his critics. Later on, when the subject of “Peace“ is discussed, its relation to the Absolute Cosmos will be presented.

In the transfinite mathematics as well as in the cosmic experience, the relations of self to “other“ and of part to whole take on not only illogical but even anti-logical aspects. The whole basis of anti-Aristotelianism today arises from the recognition that life and logic (so-called) may be quite different, even irreconcilable.

The Lotus-Consciousness and the Cosmic Consciousness are identical. There is a different “order“ of words in mathematics, such as that of Cantor, which deals with relationships between infinities, and grammar school arithmetic. There is a different “order“ of words in the Prajna Paramita Sutras of Mahayana Buddhists than in the language of the streets. The Sufic fana has been translated as, or identified with, nirvana by those who have had neither experience. Indeed, the fana is much more like the neti (not-this) of Indian teachings, than is the nirvana. The great Kaluma of Islam, La Illaha El Il Allah, may be divided into two portions:

fana: La Illaha (There is no Divinity)

baqa: El Il Allah (But Allah)

The highest state in Sufism is called fana-i-baqa, and this may he translated as nirvana; more loosely, it is equivalent to the advanced Mahayana identification of samsara and nirvana. Please, friends, note that these words are not of the finite order and not subject to a finite logic; or again, that speculation means nothing, love means everything.

When I entered India in 1962, I laughingly told the customs officials that I had all the answers. They usually ask numerous questions, some not entirely pertinent. “All the answers?” “Yes, all the answers.” “Such as?” “Tat Tvam Asi.”

Tat tvam asi literally means “that thou art“ and can be interpreted to mean that the soul-of-man is identifiable or identical with the All Pervading, Only Being (Brahman, in Sanskrit). It is the same as the Japanese ji-ji-mu-ge, which indicates the universal identification, and it has already been uncovered, at the lowest level, by the atomic physicists.

My friends, following this entry into India were very rapid meetings with the Chief of Protocol, the President, the spiritual leader of the Vedantists, and the spiritual leader of the Sufis—and all these meetings were communions, the sense of coming face-to-face with oneself.

I have before me The Soul of India, by the French writer Amaury de Riencourt, which is the sort of book that may be studied in universities or even in schools preparing people for foreign service. I can assure you, my friends, that, despite its name, it does not tell one of the Soul-of-India; it will not lead to cordial communions with the Chief of Protocol, or the President, or the Chief Holy Man of the Vedantists, or the Chief Holy Man of the Sufis. And the perusal of books of this type, at this level—not the level of the soul, but the level of the mind of the author—stands as a barrier to both world peace and mutual understanding.

A few weeks after my first visits, I was ushered into the presence of Professor A. P. Wadia, the economist emeritus of India. I am not an economist. After a long communion on Vedantic monism and cosmic consciousness, he was able to present his views on social problems. Imagine any of our intellectuals making the class repeat over and over again: “I Am the vine and ye are the branches thereof” before presenting the lesson. Or having them repeat Abdul Baha’s, “People of the world, you are as branches of the tree and leaves of the branch.” Without this monism, Wadia’s views are incomprehensible; with it, they are simple and, it may turn out in the end, effective.

The Lotus-Consciousness is the cosmic consciousness. Nothing is gained by calling samadhi “trance.“ The one refers to a grander state, the other to a lessening of awareness. In the hypnotic state, one seems to be below the threshold of consciousness. But so long as the West is so insistent upon presenting its ever-changing psychology of the Orient, and either not studying or “Jungianizing” Asian psychologies and philosophies, there will be barriers alike between mutual understanding and self-unfoldment.

Today, essayists are having a field day writing books on this subject, confusing the public and themselves by questionable experiments with opium, peyote, mushrooms and drugs. By any and all of these means, the realm of consciousness is altered. One might, by parallel examples such as the spectrograms of metals show response to different areas of “consciousness.“ But not all the spectrograms together may reveal “total consciousness.“

A much better line of experimentation might be tried with dances and dancing. Havelock Ellis has given a hint in his The Dance of Life. One might try listening to a few selected notes of music, just a few, and observe one’s moods. Then one might change the range, or the scale, or the intervals—there will be other psychological responses, but not all of these together need be “cosmic.“

All such efforts, instead of freeing man from his ego, only strengthen it. Instead of bringing freedom, there is often slavery. There have been devotees who have attained spiritual freedom by attending Mass, and, I assure you, beloved ones of God, as a non-Christian, one Mass is worth more than all these off-beat experiments combined. You cannot prove that this form of devotion may not lead to spiritual liberation.

The value of the change of consciousness is observable, if not measurable, in the increase of love and compassion. An increased awareness of the worlds both within and without is the only fruit. After Mohammed had his experiences—and at first he was not the least bit sure of himself—everybody noticed a remarkable increment of consideration for others at all levels. This is in the records which, as has been repeated only too often, too many essayists bypass. No catalytic has ever evidenced anything like that.

One does not wish to urge a polygraph test as a measurement of love-response, but at least it would obliterate considerable nonsense. For mysticism is not subject to instrument-mensuration and these experiments by non-scientific essayists are.

There are many systems of Yoga, and one of the eight Principles of Patanjali has been subjected to limited experimentation. On that one very narrow sort of “research,“ all of the eight Principles have been judged, and adding to that the ego-substitution for logic, all of the many, many systems of Yoga have been condemned. The same holds for other schools of cosmic ideation; they are all guilty by association—at the moment.

In my peregrinations, I cross-trailed Professor Durrani of the Peshawar University. There he has been head, variously, of the Departments of Physics and Engineering. His former pupils man the Warsak Dam, one of the most modern structures in Pakistan.

Professor Durrani has written Wither Ye Sadhu, an autobiographical report of his experiences as a holy man, and perhaps as one holy man who has not only sought, but found. We are here laced with the artificial enigma of a mystic being an intellectual, being an engineer, being a doer. Added to that he is a Sufi Murshid, that is, a spiritual teacher who accepts Mohammed as the Perfect Man and Messenger of God; and our house of cards, fabricated by literati and essayists, falls down.

In both private and public discussions, the professor and I noted that the same truth underlies cosmic experience and scientific discovery and much more. It is time, in fairness and in open research, to visit living mystics, to ascertain their backgrounds, their views, their outlooks, just as we do, or should do, with other types of human beings. Much more could be added. Aphorisms are not enough; scriptural texts do not always suffice, not even, “I am the way, the truth, the life.” God bless you.



Shrines and Saints


“And let them make me a sanctuary;

that I may dwell among them.”

            —(Exodus 25:8)

“The name of the city from that day shall be,

The Lord is there.”

                —(Ezekiel 48:35)


Dear Ones,

Having criticized Europeans as interpreters of ranges of philosophies and mysticisms external to their own careers, one must also praise those who have diligently devoted themselves to researches into the languages of Asia. The Royal Societies of London, Bengal and elsewhere have many excellent articles about both idioms and literatures of those “Great Books“ which we shall no doubt be studying someday.

But the Western world has forborne to take similar attitudes toward the Hebraic Bible. Indeed, I was personally “shocked” at the appearance of Sir James Frazier’s The Folklore of the Old Testament, and, later, I saw Rabbi Yahuda held to ridicule when he felt he had found Egyptian originals for both words and institutions of the Pentateuch (first five books of the Old Testament).

Paralleling this, one does not find the word “shrine“ in the usual translations of the text, and one does find a remarkable by-passing of the major portion of Scriptures by both Hebraic and Protestant devotees. Many of the institutions of the Old Testament are regarded as moribund by religious people. Yes, Protestants are “shocked“ at the rise of Humanism, and Jews are irked when a Mohammed Asad, in search of God and “religious truth,“ turns to Islam to find what is deeply imbedded in Hebraic literature, but what there is is not a chance in a million of being uncovered.

Without the pardes, or four-degree form of interpretation, many passages have no meaning whatever. The Jewish “Wisdom“ is: “No Mishna, no Torah”—that is to say, without taking the commentaries into consideration, it is hard to understand meanings. This is the folk wisdom; the practice is something entirely different. A Mohammed Asad, seeking to find the meaning of the Hebraic beruchoth (very poor literal rendition is “blessing“), finds it in the Arabic-Islamic baraka.

We have blindly accepted that fear is the source of wonder. But “savages“ are not necessarily undeveloped “Aryans.“ The psychic and other faculties to be found among primitive peoples are only now being investigated, and it can even turn out, as Sir Rider Haggard asserted, that African natives believed in the after-death because they saw the spirits of the departed.

We do find shrines or holy places in many parts of the world, venerated by devotees of different faiths; or, occasionally some spot is hallowed to followers of several religions. That water could be the vehicle of blessing has been given some consideration in the neglected Jewish literature, and the same principle was followed in Islam. You might kill an enemy under man’s justifiable circumstances, or unjustifiable circumstances, but to deprive anybody of water in the desert was a crime against Allah. The “Christian“ Italians did not think so, and the Italian method of ethnocide has never been sufficiently exculpated. But as a Muslim, one might say, “Allah knows best,” and the laws of justice and karma operate regardless. And the writer believes they will always operate, regardless.

We are just beginning to examine the “psi“ layer and, as in integration, the “church“ is somewhat behind science in elucidating the meaning of its own Scriptures. The Hebraic nephesh and the Greek psychos have been translated non-functionally. Indians and Sufis have been much more fortunate here, in that they have preserved a rationale which might explain, each in its way, what is veiled before the “common sense“ of both European religion and culture.

Not being a student of “psi“ activities in the scientific sense, I can only indicate the traditional associations between water and manifestation of psychic faculties. We have it before us in the dousing activities which may, or may not, be explained in another way. We have it in the Bible and in far more detail in Hebrew commentaries, and in all sorts of institutions of cleansing and baptism. And it reaches its most important, if not highest aspect, in the Zem-zem well near Mecca. Having tasted this water, I attest that it has most unusual properties, and, of course, there are many stories and myths concerning it.

Historically, “saints“ seem to have gathered around these wells and fountains and springs. There is something common to the locations of Rishikesh, Takht Bhai, Arjunta and many places in sub-Himalayan Punjab. This will be discussed later under another title (vide “Shangri-la”).

The importance of saints and shrines was first impressed upon me in full during my visit to Ajmir in October, 1956. No one had supplied me with any introduction, and I was traveling “off schedule.“ When I came into the station, it was crowded, but that was nothing new. But the whole crowd followed me into the room reserved at the station and when I asked what they wanted, the reply was given “Dargah Shereef” (Holy Shrine).

Ajmir, in Rajputana, India, is considered the most holy city of Muslims in that religion. Indeed, the prelates at Al-Azhar look upon it in askance because so many devotees go there who, in their opinion, should be visiting Mecca. But, for one thing, there is not the universal exploitation in Ajmir that has occurred from time to time in the Hedjaz; and that strange personality, the Nizam of Hyderabad—and, evidently, his predecessors—have contributed heavily to its upkeep.

At Ajmir one finds the tomb of Moin-ed-din Chisti, the Grand Sheikh of the school of Sufis that uses devotional musics in spiritual disciplines. Arriving in India, Moin-ed-din Chisti established friendship with Yogis and then proceeded to show that the spiritual side of Islam offered the same goals, and was open to all people alike, regardless of ancestry. It must have shocked the bigots of his time to find a saint giving esoteric training to high and low, men and women of all faiths—and succeeding, to boot. In this is also a contradiction to those fable mongers of “Islam or the Sword.”

The events at Ajmir are very hard to explain by traditional methods, and why should the psychology of 1900 be more proficient at explaining (away) the unusual of 1963 than the physics of 1890?

The first thing noticeable was a huge cauldron, which I had seen many times previously in dreams while I lived in California. This cauldron was used for distributing food to the poor. Then, I was taken to the cell of Bakhtiar Kaki, who I was told was the successor of Moin-ed-din Chisti. All the walls echoed and re-echoed in English, “What do you want?” I was too amazed to reply, but returned the next day for meditation. This was my first direct experience with an “oracular“ occurrence. The cell of the saint was like the “tabernacle“ of Moses.

I do not know—unless one accepts the psychic and the occult, how these people knew about my experience. The whole period was taken in feasts and rejoicing. I joined in the singing, which was opened to both Hindus and unveiled women. I was given one feast after another and regaled every moment. And I had again the direct shahud of the Saint under circumstances which were to occur many times afterwards. I came as Ahmed Murad; I left as Ahmed Murad Chisti. In quite similar circumstances, later on, I was to become Sufi Ahmed Murad Chisti.

At dinner, I was suddenly approached by a stranger who evidently was a spiritual teacher. He changed my practices, and by this means I was later admitted to the Naqshibandi Khankah. I could not get the name of this holy man—we were all eating and talking—but the bond with the Chisti School has been strengthened many, many times since.

Some months later, on a return visit to Lahore, I was attacked in public by a European professor of Oriental Philosophy. He rejected in toto all my claims, and the audience supported me to the hilt. One man approached, saying he was a mureed of the Naqshibandi Order and he gladly took me to their khankah (mis-translated “convent“). This is a gathering place for ceremonials, though it may be used for seclusion (khilvat).

As Allah would have it, there was a brother from Oakland, California, who quickly tested me and was just as quickly satisfied. After the services, all the brothers lined up to embrace me. Soon the state of wujud (ecstasy) came, and it seemed that my whole body was transported in space. At that time, my capacity for receiving love was not equal to the occasion. There is a point where human and divine love cannot be segregated, yet can be experienced.

I remarked later to my companion that I had never met a man who so resembled Jesus Christ as did the Khalif (representative or vicegerent) in charge of the ceremonies. “You should see our Murshid.” The Murshid in South Asia, the Sheikh in the Arab world, is the spiritual teacher, and he should be God-conscious, or at least in the fana-fi-Rassoul with Mohammed.

On my return visit to Pakistan, five years later, I was unable to find any of these people. Death, illness and change of address took them from my life. But as Allah has willed, many of my movements have been associated with Haji Sarfraz, whose khankah is on the Mall in Lahore, across the street from the offices of “Asia Foundation” (if anybody is inquisitive).

In the Naqshibandi School there is more stress on sobriety, and in the Chisti meetings one finds more people going into “spiritual intoxication.“ This state, called sukr (corresponding perhaps to the Hebraic shikkor) is fine for the young, as it helps them to dominate “lower“ forces. But when it becomes an end in itself, it may lead away from the Goal, not towards it. At times it would appear to have the same psychological significance as drug taking, but at other times it can be most elevating.

The Naqshibandi methods certainly keep one away from every sort of drug and artificial stimulant. They are effective enough to be of use in converting some Africans to Islam in the western region. In East Africa generally, the natives are attracted by the “intoxicating“ states induced by music and dancing.

In Sufism, hal indicates a state of consciousness and is often used interchangeably with sukr or wujud, but it does not necessarily bring about a change in one’s spiritual evolution, or makam. An extreme, but perhaps unfair parallel, comes into the story of the Hare (the Chistis) and the Tortoise (the Naqshibandis), but the Bedawis and others seem to be more hare-ish still.

At a later time, when I was living with Major Sadiq in the Cantonment, Lahore, I was approached one Sunday by two delegations. One was of Kadiris, whose Murshid has been most kind to me on many occasions; the other was of Naqshibandis. I do not know how they found out about me. It was a contingent of the same group who had hosted me previously! The Murshid and Khalif had both departed and they had moved to a suburb called “Sufiabad.“

Perhaps, my friends, you will understand why I do not react kindly to proposals to conduct ESP experiments with communists, when I am personally convinced that more friendly Sufis and Dervishes may be adepts in this direction, and would not only be our mentors, but would wish to enter into friendly relations.

But the great Center for all the Sufi Orders in Pakistan is the tomb of Ali B. Uthman Al-Jullabi Al-Hujwiri, known as Data Ganj Buksh, where thousands gather constantly. It is disconcerting that the shrine is almost within walking distance of our Consulate in Lahore, and still less distant from the various universities where Americans teach. Yet I have met no American who visited the place, and many go right on acting as if there are no Dervishes and no Sufi Orders.

On no occasion when I visited the shrine did the Saint not appear. The first time there were rival ceremonies of the different orders, dominated by two Chisti groups who were singing out loud, simultaneously. Yet, such is the nature of a holy place, that communion can be much more powerful than the loudest external noise. At this first, and at all subsequent visits to all shrines, there manifested something like an oracular power, or evidence of the Shahud. Muslims all say and repeat throughout their lives:

“As-shadu la illaha el il Allah,

As-shadu Mohammedar rassoul-lillah,”

(“I bear witness that there is no divinity except Allah; I bear witness that Mohammed is the Rassoul of Allah.”) Yet they do not see, they do not experience. It is still mostly an act of faith, not yet of knowledge.

Perhaps, at some later date I may annotate my experiences in detail. My friends, you have only to read Evfleki (White Memorial Library, Cleveland) or A Glossary of the Tribes and castes of the Punjab and North -West Frontier Province (I think 1894 by H. A. Rose) to confirm some statements made here.

After this sort of initiation, so to speak, I visited the tomb of Mian Mir many times. I had a close personal attunement with this saint who taught the children of Shah Jehan. They learned to “love“ Allah but not one another. We have still much to learn of the Sufi backgrounds of the Moghuls and even of Moghul art.

On another occasion I visited Ksur and went to the tomb of Bhulla Shah. This must be mentioned because the methods of this saint have made such an impression that I hope some day, inshallah, to give instructions to both Muslim and non-Muslim alike on those very simple principles which, at the same time, became most profound. Bhulla Shah became an adept because he found all the mysteries of the universe in the letter Alif, the straight line and the Divine Unity.

The great lesson I learned from Saint Mian Mir is that Allaho Akbar may be interpreted in such a way as to explain the whole of physics and metaphysics alike. This point will be stressed in the final chapter on “Peace.”

The world is very much divided on this subject of the value of visiting holy places. In the West, there has been a reluctance to accept the “miracles” of Asia on an equal basis with those of Europe, and an even greater reluctance to accept reports from Western persons on the unusual in the Orient. Jacolliot, telling about magic, seems to have stirred up more reactions than Major Yeats-Brown or Paul Brunton have with very personal, on-the-spot experiences.

My original “home“ in Pakistan was Abbottabad, in the Northwest. It is very much like California in so many respects. One of my neighbors was Pir Aslam Shah, one of the most childlike persons I ever encountered. He used to tell us constantly of his wonderful Pir-o-Murshid. Indeed, he could not talk of much else.

One day he received a cable asking that I remain in that section until Pir Haji Baba Abdul Aziz, returned. He lived at Havelian, the train terminus, which is down the gorge from Abbottabad and easily reached in bus or private car. It was from the Pir that I was to receive the Zem-zem water.

Friends, with all my zeal about languages and communication, I can assure you that there is a divine love that permeates the universe; it is the Christ, if not the Christian communion; it is ubiquitous an all-pervading, a manifestation of God beyond personality and description, but not beyond our ken. We live and move and have our being in and with this love, though we may not recognize it and often are unable to maintain it.

This is the least one can say of Pir-o-Murshid Haji Baba Abdul Aziz. He was not to become my spiritual mentor, and I cannot say that my own Pirs were “greater,“ because in the infinitude this word has no meaning.

Pir Aslam Shah also took me to many holy men and Pirs in that region. One man decried the fact that I did not have a beard (neither did Pir Aslam Shah), and this made some of the more conservative brethren hold back. But when I asked Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful, He told me that His munificence also extended to Chinese and Burmese and Amerindians.

Aslam Shah also brought me to strange holy men who were beyond classification. They might regard Mohammed in highest repute and dress and behave otherwise like Hindus. They might be munis in at least semi-permanent silence; they were always in “states“ of remembrance, and on the lower side, there was always some acceptance and recognition.

Pir Aslam Shah lived across the road from me in Abbottabad and just beyond him one could find Pir Ali Mastana, who was a real Khalandar—and not just out of “Sheherazade Suite” or folklore.

Khalandars have to go through unusual disciplines and often submit to bizarre or seemingly heterodox methods. My friends, we cannot rise above cause-and-effect or sorrow or egoicity by utilizing schemata which are, themselves, limited and measurable. Many exercises of Yogis and Dervishes seem to be nothing but extensions of “control-experiments,“ but in other directions. The Khalandars challenge this.

From another point of view, what Pir Ali Mastana taught me corresponds more to the Indian Siddhanta than Vedanta. He displayed at times super-normal powers which may be physical, may be psychic, but were certainly unusual. You may understand my personal reaction when I find a campaign going on, even successful, to raise attention and funds for joint-experiments with Russians in these fields while ignoring Asians, who may be far more adept and could even be our teachers, if only we should let them.

Later on, I met the Pir-o-Murshid of the Khalandar Order under very ordinary circumstances which ignore the rules man lays down. One hundred and fifteen years of age at the time, the Pir-o-Murshid displayed remarkable childlikeness and even a pretense to be a very ordinary man in the presence of Pir Dewaf Shereef. I will discuss this more below.

There is another class of mystics known as “madzubs.“ This term has not the same meaning, exactly, as one finds in The Wayfarers by Dr. William Donkin, or in the literature of Meher Baba. For madzub is a generic term applied to all God-seekers who lose themselves and sight of the immediate world. So there is a madzub-state which is equivalent to hal (or ecstasy or unawareness of immediacy), and there is also the title applied to persons who remain oblivious to their surroundings.

The ecstatical madzub-type is met with largely at sama, the musical gatherings of the Chistis and some African schools. Music is used in a modified way by many Dervish orders to rouse the internal spirit, so to speak, but not to cause drunkenness (i.e. sukr).

But there is one man called “Madzub,“ par excellence. He is with Pir Sufi Barkat Ali at Salarwala, Lyallpur District, in Pakistan. It is said that he is in almost perpetual communion with great souls of the past and present. For the moment, I must leave this judgement to others, for there is the personal element. A Western man who is not yet accepted by his confreres is hardly the person to offer his own experiences as a measuring-stick. Paul Brunton. very well-known indeed, has yet to be given proper objective consideration. It is only when a charlatan writes about “Masters” that the Western world seems to be aroused, and then only aroused to expose him. There are more things in heaven and earth, my dears, than are found in all our philosophies.



Contemporary Sufis and Sufism


When the devotee loves his God,

            As a young maiden adores her sweetheart;

When the devotee considers his God

            As the physicist considers his atoms and his energies;

When the devotee is aware of his God

            As we are of each other,

Then the Reality behind the manifest will become known.


Beloved Ones:

Before me is A Moslem Saint of the Twentieth Century, by one Martin Lings, concerning the late Sheikh Ahmad Al-’Alawi, a great spiritual teacher of North Africa. This book will someday stand as a memorial to the “two cultures” outlined by the British C. P. Snow. Who Mr. Lings is or was is unimportant; what he saw, whom he met, what he learned, may be all important.

No quotations will be made here. The whole book is to be recommended. It is absolute objective evidence. But there is a chain of Sufi teachers in the appendix which gives the reader an opportunity to examine the relation of teacher to disciple on through the ages.

This work also stands in contrast to a text which has been used by members of our foreign service and Americans abroad, written by an American professor who ignored the oft-mentioned J. P. Brown. What better place to go than to Cairo to write about the Dervishes. So he collected all the available literature, including some very fine translations by rather famous scholars, made some deductions, more speculations, and presented a text-book which is studied in all seriousness. And within a stone’s throw there are dervishes, and no attention has been paid to the fact. This, my friends, is one of the ways in which we “instruct“ our young and then blame the communists when we are not loved.

One is constantly placed in a predicament between those who deride dervishes and those who either ignore them or deny their existence. And if one is in Egypt and visits libraries, there one can find all kinds of literature, contemporary as well as ancient, on the subject. Or if one goes to India and Pakistan, one will both meet people and find some very serious studies going on.

If there comes a question to some people about the Cuban policy of the United States, the “fanatics“ all over the world will reply: “At least the Cubans do not deny our existence and they never call us ‘fanatics.’“

The Muslims of Egypt are pretty well unified. There are those who follow Al-Azhar and those who follow the modernists (who wish to see Holy Qur’an translated), and those who study seriously within Dervish orders. But there is no strong line of demarcation, and a person can belong to two or all three of these movements without prejudice.

The first thing one may observe in Egypt is that popular Islam does not necessarily follow any standards laid down in the Encyclopedia of Islam. This is a grand compendium “about,“ but is not it. Many non-Muslims have done some excellent research and given fairly unbiased opinions, but are the people like what they say about them?

The family of the Prophet is held in pretty high regard. Crowds visit the “tombs” not only of Syed Hussein, but of his sister, Zeinab. Both Fatima and her daughter, Zeinab, are held in high regard; and if women do not go to the mosques as others think they should, they do crowd into the tombs.

The position of women in historical Islam has been unfortunate, and many passages of Hadith which deal with women have been spurned. Besides, until this century reformers tried to suppress this saint and tomb “worship” which was, at least, an outlet for the ladies. It is only now that they are being released and finding a proper place in society and in life.

In 1960 my birthday coincided with that of Syed Hussein, the son of Khalif Ali and also grandson of the Prophet. My friend Murtaz Billah look me to the shrine which is not far from Al Azhar. The interior is divided so that different Orders have their sectors for prayers, convocations and Zikrs. Repeated visits to that place enabled me to see, if not actually meet, thousands of persons.

We proceeded thence to the Shadhili Khankah, which is a short way from the shrine. At that time there was no living Murshid, the last Sheikh having recently passed away, and there was no immediate capable successor. For this one should have passed certain stages of spiritual development. The teachings and ceremonies were divided among the several Khalifs, who are one grade below the Sheikh. The first thing that astonished me was that their chanting was totally different from that used when reciting Qur’an or from popular Arabic music. It seemed to be relegated to “plain-song“ and modes of the ancient Greeks. During the Zikrs, which are sung, the brothers recite continually “Allah! Allah!” as a background or “ground“ while themes and melodies were sung by a special choir.

This music was not so electrifying as that of the Chistis, but it did give a feeling of release, being something like a half-way “house“ between the ecstatic Chistis and the sober Naqshibandis to whom I then belonged. And there was no finer greeting into a strange land than to find oneself in and with a spiritual brotherhood.

At this point, I find myself so much at variance with many items which have entered into Western folk-lore regarding Dervishes, that it is very hard to proceed. My friend, Mohammed Murtaz Bhillah, is a research scientist, and I met him during the ordinary procedures, taken along with efforts to study food, soils and agriculture in the countries visited. He became interested in tasawwuf, the disciplinary esoteric and mystical side of Islam, and, in a sense, all religions, through his wife. His wife is not only a spiritual teacher, but a graduate chemical engineer who was doing research on ice-cream. One after another, our parrot-like repetitions must be both voided and avoided if we are going to understand exotic peoples and institutions. The number of scientists and professional people turning their interests toward Sufism in the Islamic countries is paralleled by similar interests, generally toward Vedanta, in Great Britain and the United States.

The next point is in regard to personal experiences. Here again one is stumped. The Freudian and post-Freudian interpretations of dreams point toward the past. The possibility of the existence of an alaya or universal depository of knowledge has not yet been given consideration. And the hiatus between “science“ and “religion“ is heightened by the non-semantic approach toward “psychic“ and “pneumatic“ bodies, even by so-called “semanticists.“

No doubt the time will come when research organizations, seeking public support in the examination of the bizarre and weird, will have to become as universal and objective as botanists and geologists, accepting “specimens“ without regard as to time or clime. This is not yet done. in certain circles one may sin against “God,“ so to speak, but to rebel against Jung is “dangerous,“ yet neither Jung, nor anybody else, should be approached from an “either-or“ basis.

Dreams can open up new doors and, for me, they did. One experience after another was validated in my everyday life until, at a gathering at the Sidi Sharani Shrine, I became a disciple in the grand Rifai Order known to us, and quite wrongly, as “Howling Dervishes.” My friends, there is nothing that stands out more in the teachings and lives of this Brotherhood than love—not that bastard abstraction which appears daily in the papers, cinema and literature, but that grand universal adhesion, cohesion and gravitation which is common to all things and all beings, the incarnation of which in its highest form is found, perhaps, in the personality of Jesus Christ. But religion somewhat and society almost entirely, has rejected the approach of Thomas a Kempis, and the world suffers therefor.

In the Near East in particular, passages of scriptures were “revealed“ not in some inner understanding, but in the outward experiences. And this brought me into the strong heart-feeling toward and with Sheikh Mohammed Desoughi of Sidi Sharani and Abusalem Amria at Abdin Mosque. First, foremost and always, these people live, move and have their being in love (ishk), which is one of the best signs of the existence and presence of an All-Pervading Deity.

Next, the teachings at the Rifai mosques were semantically orthodox. There was none of that playing of aphorisms and maxims which so often displaces morality within ecclesiastical functionings. Nor is there any need to conceal the places at which wisdom is taught as well as lived. To the credit of the Ulema of Al-Azhar, even long after they have become accredited and practicing instructors, they visit the Rifai mosques to learn; and I know of no man in Islam who is better acquainted with religion and the personality of Mohammed from any and all points of view than the man whom I regard in some ways as my Sheikh, though bayat (pledge of allegiance) was taken to and with three men, not one, in Cairo.

And here one must offer the name of A. M. Attia, who acted as my interpreter, mentor and guide in many respects. For he represents the practical man, the man of worldly affairs, the man concerned with enterprise and commerce, yet every Friday he would give instructions in philosophy, morality and religion in the mosque. There is no outer covering by which a Dervish or Sufi can be recognized, and the restriction of the term “Sufi“ to those who spend their lives in retirement, or of Dervishes to those who behave in an anti-social fashion, tells us nothing of living mystics and living mysticism. We do not restrict botany to the herbalists.

Nearly all Sufi Orders stem directly or indirectly from Ghaus-ul-Azam, i.e., Abdul Qadir-i-Jilani, who died in Bagdad in 1166. His descendants are found all over the world and occupy important positions in government, diplomacy, business, science, education and almost everything else. My friends, if we are going to look at Islam as it is, and at the world as it is, we must take into consideration those people and not take too seriously literature which by-passes them.

There are, of course, Dervish Orders which do not stem from this “tree,“ nearly all of which pay particular tribute to Ali, the son-in-law of Mohammed, whose mystical state was very high all his life. It is too bad that there is too much tribute to his person, too little attention to his noble moral and humanitarian sentiments. Until this day, Sunnis have ignored what Omar did; Shiahs have not practiced as Ali. Fortunately, the tide is changing.

My personal experiences entering the Rifai Order all come from the basic reality of “heart.“ In each city I visited, the first man I met was a Sheikh of this Order. This happened in Alexander, Luxor, Port Said and Aden. Caught as we are in the web of analysis and egocentricity, we do not “see“ beyond a certain point and think, by substituting the word reality for our own sensations or limitations, we are proving something.

In both the Near East and in Pakistan, there is a certain form of what is called “Saint-veneration,” but to those who have experienced it, the places where holy men have meditated seem to be charged with a sort of spiritual electricity and magnetism. As magnetism it attracts, as electricity it vibrates and revivifies.

In the near future, no doubt, there will be more and more objective books on Sufis and Sufism; or, rather, their acceptance by universities and study groups instead of the tribute paid to Arabists and others who are more adept in their knowledge of literature than of basic psychologies.

My meetings with the sages in the Near East were like comic operas; those in Pakistan became like grand dramas. Leaving Abbottabad my friend Pir Aslam Shah said to me: “Murad, I do not think any foreigner coming to this land has met so many holy men as you have. Yet, in the sense of one of our noted cartoonists, “Then the fun began.”

My friend Ansar Nasri of Radio Pakistan, introduced me to his Pir-o-Murshid, and by the process of tawajjeh (the attunement of the glance) there was an inner awakening which has resulted in much poetic creativity. It may be possible to have this poetry published some day, but it is nearly all epical, influenced by Dante, Rumi and our symphonists. Tawajjeh, in theory, corresponds to the darshan practiced in India and is mentioned in In Quest of the Oversoul by Paul Brunton. Jesus Christ may have said, “The light of the body is the eye.” Few have experienced it to the depth.

A similar experience came when I met the Pir-o-Murshid of my friend, Huq, who operates Dawn Hotel in Rawalpindi.

But the greatest drama came when life centered around my friend and spiritual brother, Major Mohammed Sadiq. In epical fashion, in the year 1961, he was led or pushed from one place to another until he met Sufi Pir Barkat Ali, who lives in Salarwala, Lyallpur District.

All the occult and mystical experiences read of in books or told through folklore seem to have paled in the separate or common experiences of the Major (mostly) and myself. In many respects a very childlike man, the Major had been told he had healing powers, and during the past years, multitudes have come to him for help. It was interesting to note that his best “cures“ were made either in hospitals or in the presence of attending physicians who had Western training. Only once, when a blind man insisted his sight was restored, did this occur without some kind of doctor being there. (This was in the home of Mohammed Hakim of Sheikhapura, the host being also a disciple of Pir Barkat Ali.)

It has been stated that the madzub (par excellence) also lives in Salarwala. The Pir, formerly an aide to Field Marshal Auchlinchek, retired from military and political affairs at the end of World War II to devote himself to the spiritual life. His state seems very high, his stations the most advanced, from the Sufi point of view that I have yet encountered. He has a vast amount of inner and outer knowledge but devotes himself entirely to recognition of the All-Pervading Omnipresent Deity, and to helping humanity to rise from unhappiness, disease and frustration.

He has a simple abode in the jungle, the compound terminating in a mosque and courtyard used for study, prayer and ceremonies. But sometimes the crowd is so large that meetings are held in an adjacent field.

The women meet separately and one can easily distinguish the Pir’s wife by her remarkably brilliant, loving, living eyes, magnetic and electrifying and more. Children are also encouraged in devotions and present indications are that there will be a large Sufi Center in that region as time goes on.

Pir Barkat Ali combines the tasawwuf of the Chisti, Kadiri, and Sabri Schools. The Chisti use music, mainly, and there have been some excellent kawwals (songs of devotion) presented there by individuals and groups. The Kadiri teaching takes into consideration the use of repetition of spiritual phrases, mostly from Holy Qur’an and all in Arabic. The Sabri School has a moral training, not too different from that offered in the Indian Bhagavad Gita, so that one can practice a sort of “indifference“ under all circumstances, feeling the presence of Allah, whomsoever, howsoever, wheresoever. Thus, to Sufis, God is both Being and the-Being.

At the beginning of 1962 I felt entirely satisfied, and yet in a strange position, with a spiritual teacher in each of the great faiths of Asia. Sufi Barkat All seemed to dominate everything in my “occult“ life. The practice of tasawwur, which is to keep in tune with the Murshid in thought, in breath, in vision, manifested itself in some delightful episodes. The departure from Pakistan, the welcome to India and the departure from India were all marked by incidents which do not fall within our accepted modes of “realism“ or diplomacy. What we shall have to learn, beloved ones of God, is that we are the beloved of God, that God is the Love, Supreme, Transcendent, Immanent, and most of all Real. And it is to be hoped that some day people can relate more openly some elements of their inner lives, as they can now relate scientific or artistic achievement.

At the tomb of Amir Khusrau within the compound of Nizam-ud-din Auliya, I saw myself invested with a robe which was described to the sons of Hasan Nizami and upon my return to Pakistan I found my brethren ready with that very robe at a public gathering; and henceforth I became known as “Sufi Ahmed Murad Chisti.” But for this it is necessary to evince knowledge of fana, either as fana-fi-Rassoul or fana-fi-Lillah.

But self-satisfaction has nothing to do with the spiritual life. Riza means satisfaction with the Deity Who is Compassionate, Compassionator, and Compassionated.

When I had been with Major (then Captain) Sadiq in Dacca in 1956, we had been invited to dinner by his chief, Brigadier Ghulam Mohammed Khan. The “general“ (in our terms) was very careful not to throw rank at us in spiritual matters, but told us that sooner or later we would both come to recognize his spiritual teacher. Having then entered into bonds with Maulana Abdul Ghaffoor and later with Pir Barkat Ali, we believed we had come to that place wherein we could and would progress without any further “aid.“ But it was not to be.

Pir Abdul Majid Khizri, commonly known as Pir Sahib Dewal (or Deval) Shereef, had his khankah or headquarters at Islamabad, just north of Rawalpindi. The Brigadier, now retired, had his home nearby. He appeared to be cold both to the Major and myself, but this proved to be a facade.

Hazrat Pir Dewal Shereef claimed to have received his spiritual illumination through Khizr, that semi-legendary figure who, with Elijah, remain as the “two guardian spirits“ of this world and the next. Those to whom Khizr appears are supposed to be specially blessed.

Now, from the moment I reached Pakistan, wherever I settled, a young emissary of Pir Hazrat appeared. It did not matter where. First it was in Abbottabad, Hazara District, my original “home“ in Pakistan. A few devotees in tasawwuf would gather at the home of Chief of Police Ghani, and he came and “tapped“ me for his Pir. This happened over and over again at Lahore, Rawalpindi and other places; and when I doubled in my tracks, so did he, over and over again.

So Major Sadiq and I determined independently to place the cards on the table, and it was a case, with each of us, of absolute, unconditional surrender. The strong, the self-willed, the adamant became like babes— and, later, I was to see other persons go through even more dramatic performances. There was bayat on sight, regardless of earlier commitments.

Later, I spent some days with the Pir at Murree, his Himalayan retreat. As with Paul Brunton, it was not necessary for me to use words or the ordinary means of communication; and, as the heart becomes more alive, this method becomes facile and effective. Our bodies may occupy different portions of “material“ space; but in the heart-world there is a totally different sort of arrangement. Attunement is of prime importance.

Hazrat Pir Sahib Dewal Shereef was called on to superintend the construction of Islamabad University on the site of the new capital of Pakistan. He was successful in obtaining funds for this new institution, even beyond his own original scheme. The university plans to coordinate the ancient and the modern, to preserve religious and spiritual traditions, to incorporate all aspects of modern knowledge and methodologies, but in particular those arts and crafts which require some use of the hands.

Pir Sahib realizes the weakness of Pakistanis: their unconscious Indian heritages of class and caste, their low regard for certain types of labor and endeavor and their complete ignorance of the personal habits of Mohammed and his immediate successors.

Pir Sahib Dewal Shereef may even, in a certain sense, be regarded as the spiritual teacher of former President Ayub Khan. The President cooperated in several of his ventures and was open to guidance in ways we of the Western world either do not understand or do not accept.

The Grand Sheikh of the Khalandars visited him while I was at Murree, and it was a strange sight. The old man, then a hundred and fifteen (115) years of age, acted more like a youth in love.

Except for his wrinkled skin, he showed no sign of age. And it was even more remarkable to find the spiritual leader of one School paying much obeisance to the Pir of another Order.

More remarkable still, to me, was the absolute surrender of Sheikh Mahdudi, who had been regarded as the leader of those Muslims who wished to be conservative in their religion but “march with the times.“ To the Sheiks’s credit, he admitted his ignorance of the principles of the religion he claimed to profess—but this is quite usual. In Pakistan claims are often stronger than evidence, and along with a marked devotional and mystical spirit, there is blindness which strikes out in many directions.

It is very unfortunate that our press either ignores the existence of the. Dervishes or calls them “fanatics.“ These “fanatics,“ dissatisfied in part over the fate of Kashmir, became very cold toward the United States in the cold war. Our U.S.I.A. does not meet and influence many people of whom they know so little; interested in so little and yet wishes to instruct and propagandize. They should—or rather if there was any humility at all—they could learn from the Catholic Fathers. Until we “accept the universe“ and stop this nonsense called “realism,“ we must be prepared for many more shocks in this actual world from actual humanity.

No one can take the place of God.





“The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.”

                —Jesus Christ


Around 1930, in the midst of the Depression, the Roerich Museum in New York was flourishing. This period also evinced interest in “messianism.” J. Krishnamurti, long heralded as the Messenger of the day, denied this possibility—which has not prevented press agents from bringing out new candidates or new ideals. For it seems there is something latent in humankind that demands a heaven on earth.

At the Roerich Museum, Shambala was to be the place where the real Divine Messenger was to appear. Perhaps his coming was to be preceded by a new incarnation of that hero-villain known to us as “Genghis Khan,“ the world-conqueror. Anyhow, there was little we mortals could do but sit and wait; only certain chosen privileged were in on the future course of affairs. But, despite the ever-present insistence that the highest spiritually developed beings are and maybe always have been connected with Tibet, some rather strange and indeed, very human incidents have occurred.

The Roerich institutions have faded away. Even the dream that Tibet was the most privileged land seems to have gone. And some excluded psychics (and psychics have a penchant for excluding others) declared that Genghis Khan had indeed returned as Joseph Stalin. And who knows? Maybe they were right. Anyhow, Shambala began to recede. But not entirely.

The Razor’s Edge dealt with the possibility of a man seeking spiritual deliverance in the midst of our culture. This is entirely in accord with actual Buddhist teachings. But since many of us love excitement more than truth, this would not do—Shambala simply had to be elsewhere.

I remember an incident where a guest at a party was telling that the great Masters were in Central Asia. Of this he was positive. I said, “Yes, I know. I have been there and met them in person.” The man jumped up suddenly from his chair and beat a hurried exit.

Therefore, when Lost Horizons appeared, both as a book and a movie, millions were aroused. The blessed land was not necessarily Tibet, nor were the favored persons necessarily Buddhists. This produced some satisfaction. But the theme was the same, a continuum of that which brought Balboa to our shores, looking for some fountain of youth. That was because Balboa belonged to the “dark ages.“ We still seek; something in man is always searching.

Nicol Smith’s very real (not realistic, my dears) reports on Tibet seem to have disappointed many persons. He did not find the right type of Shangri-la. He did seem to run into communist agents; he acted out in actual life what Talbot Mundy had portrayed in fiction. And when it came to occult events, it was the Sufis, not the mysterious Buddhists, who saved him from worse predicaments.

More recently, one hears a good deal about Hunza—one is not even sure how it should be transliterated. People there seem to live long, healthy lives with few signs of physical or mental breakdowns. Now the food “faddists“ seem to have taken over. A “faddist,“ my dears, is a pioneer on the fringes of science, as a “fanatic“ is an exotic on the fringes of religion. Only the fads of one generation often become the foods of the next.

To begin with, the water drunk in Hunza-land undoubtedly contains many chemicals which do not appear in other locations. These alone might be helpful and must be considered along with the diet. The pace of life is also important. There are no rush hours; indeed, at high elevations one simply could not maintain the pace of our big cities. And whatever balanced diet there is, it must be considered with the entire regimen.

Then, the people are all of one faith. That is fine. But when we learn that they are Muslims, that is not so good. Is there anything in Islam which guarantees the peace and happiness found in that high mountain land? It is worse than that, my dears. Those people are Ismailias, the most heterodox of Muslims, and what is more, they follow the Aga Khans in their worship. That about rules it out for us; there are some things which have too high a price. As we know so little of actual Islam, and practically nothing of Ismailism except the social and sexual life of its leaders, this sort of Shangri-la will “never, never do.”

Of course, there was once a Shangri-la in the Christian world. That is fine. But it was in South America, and what is more, it was established and maintained by the Jesuit Fathers. And it looked too much like “communism,” so the powers-that-were had it destroyed, and we don’t even study about that any more.

And there was “The City of God” of St. Augustine, but the world today is too busy studying and confuting Marxisms, even becoming dialectical to do so, to have any time for some of the great saints of Christianity.

Yet one must apologize to those who feel that there is or was a holy land in the Himalayan or sub-Himalayan region. Kakul is the name given to the head of the valley north of Abbottabad in Pakistan. It abounds with springs and fountains and corresponds to that same formation found at Rishikesh, Takht Bhai, Arjunta and the fringes of “Pukhtunistan.” Both literature and “feeling“ brought the conclusion that this was one of the abodes of the ancient Rishis, who sang the original Vedas. When I asked my sensitive or clairvoyant friends, they confirmed this. You do feel something there.

Evidently, some of the most ancient temples have been rebuilt as mosques or Islamic shrines. What is more, as has been related, there are a number of holy men in that district. So one cannot blame those who hold to a folk-tradition. And my own belief is that there are centers of baraka-berachoth, or magnetized blessings, which are operative and awaken latent faculties or latent memories in those who venture.

No doubt Palestine had corresponding centers, especially if we take into consideration all the lands associated with the Prophet Abraham. As folk-beliefs of exotic people are “superstitions,“ it may be a long time before the matter can be examined unemotionally.

As the words of Jesus Christ may also be interpreted: “The Kingdom of God is among you,” there have been many [not decipherable] colonies established from time to time. But here we consider only the “Lotus“ people. And if there are such places in America, to mention them will be to invite in the philistines and thus lead to their destruction.

We have described the methods used at Anandashram to bring peace and prosperity. But here again, although saints dwell in and visit the place, the benefits go to the ordinary talks of the countryside.

Sri Aurobindo could be the most controversial of all people. But as he envisioned a new outlook and a new humanity, we must keep his vision, not his followers, in mind. Many of them neither look like nor act like Yogis or supermen, but at the same time, their combined, integrated methods might lead to a new world, a new society; and near Pondicherry, as well as elsewhere, we see an attempt at a “Shangri-la,“ or a “Kingdom of God“ on earth.

So any negative remarks may also apply to the writer. Perhaps we have to look for the Kingdom of God both “within“ and “among“ men.





Every ten years a Nobel Peace Prize,

Every five years another way.



“If you would make peace with the world,

first make peace with yourself:”

                —Hazrat Inayat Khan


The famous Frenchman, Henri Clemenceau, used to say, “War and peace are two things too serious to entrust to diplomats and generals.” Our political leaders, of no matter what stripe, have refused to accept his words, nay his wisdom. Instead, we had the Kellogg-Briand Pact, and stuck to the great “ism“ of the day, the aphorism. The aphorism, my friends, can only lead, as Stuart Chase has pointed out, to The Tyranny of Words. So we have adhered to the tyranny of words; we have our debates on peace, we laud peace, and nations and peoples keep on fighting each other. Or, if one wished to be sarcastic, we had the League of Nations before and the United Nations today to compel the little countries to maintain order.

The saga of Noah and the flood, not being studied from the four-fold Hebraic pardes point of view, gives us at best but symbols. The same theme appears in Jonah and the Puranas of India. It is not important whether they are alike or are borrowed from the Babylonian Gilgamesh myth or copied from one another. What is valuable is hidden. Noah, in Hebrew, means either “Mr. Peace” or “Mr. Rest.”

The theme here is universal, that there is a world-of-agitation and beneath it a world-of-rest. Or perhaps they are so intermingled that the universe is a “Razor’s Edge.” Indeed, we find this idea in and under all religions, and therefore, all religions are acceptable. Yet it is also true, as one Oriental sage has put it, “I have come to abolish religion and bring God.” Until we find the depths, we are concerned only with words or thoughts. These proceed from peace; peace is their origin and is not qualified therefrom.

One gains encouragement from the Nobel Peace Prize being given to the scientist Professor Linus Pauling. There are even stories that he may be something of a “Lotus-man,“ one who has a cosmic perspective. More and more people are realizing that aphorisms are traps. The literati, so aptly described by C. P. Snow in The Two Cultures, simply cannot understand the point of view of the scientist: that facts should be considered as more important than subjectivities about them by important persons. On the one hand we have the analysts and speculators, and on the other hand the synthesists and integrators. They stand far apart.

The scientist, the artist, the adventurer and the mystic are alike in that they tend to confine themselves to experience. Therefore, they are often regarded as queer or egocentric by those who rely on analysis and dialectics). Jesus has declared that, by taking thought, we cannot add to the hairs on our head. And the scribes and Pharisees who control our literature cannot avoid using what the Christian Scientists call the “material mind.“

The founders of religions have presented similar programs. Moses went so far as to present a complete polity which could, in a sense, bring peace, equilibrium and prosperity. The Sabbath (seventh) year, when all debts were forgiven, and the Jubilee (seven times seventh year), when all land reverted to common ownership, were only two features of this little-studied but far-reaching plan. In historical times the one effort to establish such an order, by Jesuits in South America, came to an end because it interfered with selfish politicians. No doubt there may be many forms of societies which may persist in a state-of-peace, and today we could only with difficulty establish a Mosaic economy.

Jesus Christ offered the communion in which each and all would share in the universal life and so in the lives of each other. This theme is presented again and again in the Christian Scriptures, but, unfortunately, communion has remained either symbolic or formal. This is not enough.

Peace is not concerned with mere negations. Life only ebbs in the cemetery. The Indian neti, neti’ (“not this, not this“) may bring a form of satisfaction. It does not bring life. For peace is not mere euphoria.

Inner peace is the real peace. Words are not peace. Thoughts are not peace. Plans are not peace. Programs are not peace. Peace is fundamental. It is easy to prove in the sciences—in physics one sees that all kinetic energy comes from potential energy—and the real Masters who are here are teaching it. It is hard to appreciate, hard to experience, hard to realize. It is fundamental to all faiths, all religions, all spirituality. It is from this that everything was, or let us say:

In the Beginning Was Peace,

And the Peace Was With God,

And the Peace Was God,

And Out of This Peace Has

Everything Been Made That Was Made.

The difference between this Logos-Peace and what we generally call “Peace“ is that the latter is a vacuum, a zero, a nothing, a blank, a negative to the extreme. The Logos-Peace is fullness, is all-inclusive, is brotherhood. The human body is a society of myriads of cell units working together. The total of humanity (Adam) is a society of myriads of personalities which must work together in and with and under God. Only this must be based on experiences and not on syllogisms, on truth and not truism.

LSD experiments in recent years have made many discover that there is an ocean of consciousness beyond their immediate ken. But they have only dipped their little toes into it. The practice of meditation in one of its many forms can bring us to the experiences of peace at many levels, until we find we are one with the Grand Consciousness which embraces us all. But so long as dualism persists, we cannot have peace.

When Mary Pickford wrote Why not Try God? it was not always interpreted, “Why not Try Peace? Why not Try Love?” The mind selects, the mind abstracts; and what is not only near at hand, what may be the core of our very being remains without our ken.

St. Paul has said (my own translation): “To each is given the manifestation of the spirit to universal benefit.” (I Corinthians 12:7) The Greek prefix sym comes from the same origin as the samma used by Buddha in his proclamation of the Eightfold-Path. It is the universality, the collectivity as against the each, the individual.

In these words of St. Paul, we have some pretty good Buddhistic teaching, or some very fine mystical philosophy, or the application of that universality which pervades the words of Jesus Christ and the teachings of all Founders of all faiths. So peace is not something to be gained by attacking “erroneous views,“ as the un-attained among the Buddhists hold. Samma dhrishri means to have the universal, the cosmic outlook. Finding the whole universe, finding “the kingdom of heaven” within, one can do something about it.

The greatest lesson I received from Nyogen Senzaki was his “Buddha Hridaya. “It was not only the words, but something conveyed with them. Or, as this thought has been put in our age, “Let the mind go, let the heart come.”

We again come back to the need to cultivate peace within ourselves, howsoever it be done. Peace cannot come from a pact. This was tried with the Kellogg-Briand Pact, which verbally outlawed war, and ends with Stuart Chase’s Tyranny of Words. We must alter “Foreign Aid” into “Foreign Understanding” without changing policies. Changing policies may bring satisfaction, but not peace. Changing attitudes might be tried.

Without any of the “credentials“ of diplomats and scholars, the writer has communed with the trees in the Imperial Garden in Tokyo, as a guest of honor. Without any of the “credentials“ of the scholar, the writer has communed with the former President of India. All this, besides meeting the sages and saints and holy men of many faiths. In each case I became aware of the grand ocean-of-stillness in which we live and move and have our being.

When the United Nations was organized, the United States took its stand with Russia and other non-believing countries against a room or house-of-prayer. It is to the thanks of the Muslims that they compelled such an establishment. And it is also to the credit of the Muslims that they presented the history of Mecca, perhaps the only occasion in history where the foes were forgiven in the Name of God, and the “sins“ of political aberration were totally erased.

Not only do we fail to find the kingdom of God by “lo here, lo there,” we do not find any peace by ascribing its absence to some particular “devil“ here or there. Arnold Toynbee hammers this point home, and his name will probably remain on the pages of the historians if not in history itself. And now a universal man has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, a man of good-will. This may even be the beginning to real understanding and avoidance of the “Tyranny of Words.” Let us so hope.

Hazrat Inayat Khan taught:

“O Thou, Who art the Perfection of Love, Harmony and Beauty, Lord of Heaven and of Earth,

Open our hearts that we may hear Thy Voice which constantly cometh from within.”

In other words, “God is here.” This can be practiced, this can be realized, this can be known.

My love and blessings to you all.

Om Mani Padme Hum!

Hail, the Jewel in the Lotus!