This is Tuesday, March 22 and I am finding it advisable to begin recording in my diaries, lest events pass by or are only included in letter. These events are too striking to pass unnoticed.
The Practice of Zen by Chang Chen-Chi is a book, which arrived late after I had written to L.A. I began reading it at once and was struck by the fearsomeness of attacks on Alan Watts and others.
In one sense the attacks are overdrawn because of the complete by-passing of Karuna or Compassion. But in another sense they are not overdrawn, for those “nice” Europeans who earn their livelihood by writing books on something they call “Zen” is nothing but travesty and none of them have stressed Karuna, either. They describe the man by his coats and a healthy men in a threadbare outfit would be anathema to Western-Book-Zen.
On the other hand, as Alan has lectured on “Psychology, East and West,” it is about time he learn something about some Eastern psychologies and folkways. The Chinese and Burmese do not indulge in Double-talk, niceties and diplomatic nonsense, which gives us poisonous soothing syrup instead of friendship. But so many Americans just “love” poisonous soothing syrup and prefer “The Ugly American” to truth and a pleasant speaker to an informative one.
The Center is a strange place here, open to all religion. I gave a talk Sunday on “The Gospel of St. Thomas” with some covert criticism of Billy Graham and attention to the passage, “The Father is an activity and a repose,” calling attention to its Mahayana aspects. Well, it seems that the organizers of the Center were present. They had arranged a seminar for Alan Watts; now, they want to know something of the techniques of Zen and Sufism.
Dr. Baker will remember how I behaved during the UNESCO a few years back. The same thing is happening here. I went to register for a forthcoming institute on “Giants of Asia” and opened my moth to the man just I head of me in line for tickets. His name is Reynolds, he is a Cal. Agricultural Expert and has just come back from India. We had much to say and should be meeting this weekend.
Went with Viola Harris to the first colloquium. The main speaker was a Dr. B. S. Gilani who spoke as a representative of India. After the question period I asked: “Didn’t you come from Iraq?” “Yes.” Then you are a member of the great family?” “Yes.” He is a descendent of the Grand Sheikh and a cousin of the man who was my host in Washington years ago when I started out on plans for the Near East. I shall write him shortly.
While this was going on Mrs. Catherine Peck went to another lecture and it came out that the speaker there, too, was either a Sufi or a friend of the Sufis. He also wants to meet me. I have also met a Hyderabadi and a Bombay Hindu (whom I spotted on sight.)
I also wrote to Columbus about speaking for the T.S. and in the next mail received another letter from quite a different source, asking me to speak. This will probably be on April 13 and 19th. I may see Park this weekend, otherwise to Ann Arbor to report on the Institute—which will give me a fine opportunity.
My dear Blanche:
This is also my diary letter. I am very glad to have the duplicate check. However my fears about my Bank Accounts proved to be false. I received a letter in the same mail from the Bank but it was a duplicate of the deposit slip. There appears to be no danger or difficulty of any kind.
The main problem that I felt would appear and has appeared is a sort of pressure connected with success. My chief hostess here has been troubled about my meeting one professor Saha. Well, I met the Professor in the ordinary course of events without turning a hair. My timing has been perfect. The World Affairs Council has had lectures and an institute on India and China. I met the representative from the Embassy and made a date for April 27. I have already met another professor from a Sufi family.
Tomorrow I give my Easter lecture. This partly because my hostess leaves soon and partly because I shall be in Columbus and give this talk, presumably, for the T.S. The subject will be “The Body of Light.” While I shall use N.T. texts I shall interpret it also in terms of Sufism and Vedanta. I expect a fairly large and sympathetic audience.
Today I rather held my own at the Institute, being careful not to monopolize the floor. There was one man opposed to me but I found he was very, very unpopular and most of the audience would have liked me to speak more, but one does not like it that way. I am now going to write a few letters of interest to the World Affairs Council here and it is beginning to look as if I must come to this part of the word regularly hereafter. I leave Monday for Ann Arbor and have a special lecture on my return.
I go to Wooster on Monday, April 11, arriving Tuesday night to speak to the T.S. presumably on “Real Saints, Real Masters, Real Shrines”—but it have advised that I shall not speak on the theosophical masters because so far as I am concerned they function in California no in Asia, and being Masters, are not confined to the Himalayas or anywhere.
I shall let Stedman know and am also timing so I won’t arrive too early in Columbus because he is a night-owl. I shall not cross him on Astrology or anything outside of Asian philosophy. I may leave him some Zen books or else take them to Boston.
The key test was followed by another of the same order but I sort of “laughed at the gods (or pixies).” I cannot bother about Battle Creek. I am glad you been specific but Puck has had an awful problem—two other woman have offered me financial help and you can guess—scarabs! Actually it is sully because I have only spiritual and psychic attachments here (not artistic) and these are most serious and profound.
The conduct of the Institute and the handling of all meetings was more impressive than the conclusions which were reached. Years of experience have developed chairmen and leaders, superior to anything I have yet encountered.
My trip to Ann Arbor might have been a disappointment. I found that there was a vacation or intercession. Not only was Dick Park not there but also Madame Aga-Oglu was away. For years I was a close friend of her long since divorced and possibly dead husband; he was a leading authority on Rugs, Tapestries and Islamic Art in general. But I left a note about future plans to seek specimens and objects d’art in Egypt.
I next contacted some Pakistani students discovering one was a Soil major. He invited me to the Id festival where all the Muslims were to join. It was noteworthy that the Pakistanis were in large abundance and the Turks, surprisingly, far outnumbered the Arabs. Today we here about the Turks abandoning religion and the Arabs often using Islam as a façade. There I learned that there is now a complete American Islamic Movement headed by on Mr. Khalid of Dearborn, who is in close touch with both Al-Azhar and Cairo. In turn this will be of value to me when I reach UAR.
On my return I found a large envelope from Jonathan Garst, brother of the man who was Khrushchev’s host in Iowa. This is a fertilizer program for India. I am going to share it with Professor Saha and then perhaps take it on to Washington. While there are some divergences in view—he leans toward chemical rather than organic fertilizers—the plan cannot be dropped. My main difference seems to grow out of his overlooking the nitrogenous and other food values in the grasses there, particularly in that angel-devil Bermuda Grass, the curse of all gardeners and the blessings of many farmers. It has a very high and fine food value for cattle, goats and sheep. (This was also discussed by me at Hew Gardens which has some of the best Grass experts in the whole world.)
Yesterday I also read about the perfection of a new Miticide for Strawberries at the Agricultural Experimental Station at Wooster, Ohio. I am going there on the 11th and shall collect data, writing to Giannini Hall (Prof. Ryerson) and also seeking literature on strawberries to send to my friend mentioned above in Simla. He is in close contact alike with the Agricultural and Forestry Experimental Stations In North India.
The University of Michigan has a set-up for Asian Studies which is close to what I should advocate. There have been so many debacles (locally UNESCO and the American Academy; elsewhere such nonsense at the University of Chicago and Yale), that we need some more institutions and institutes which give news first, views afterwards, if at all.
Somehow or other I am always keeping busy and am becoming self-assured. But sometimes the best way to success is to listen and take suggestions—then do something. I am hoping to call on Chester Bowles when I reach Washington in regard to some of the above.
March 30, 1960
My dear Mr. & Mrs. Smith:
This is really my diary entry for today. I am sending a copy of it to Prof. Richard Park who is now in Arbor and another copy to Raja Bhagal in India who has been both my host and my guest.
My coming here has been well timed so far as social and financial aspects are concerned. I am doing some lecture and research work on Asian literature for which I am paid and take the results to Washington at the end of next month. I have also been most fortunate in having the World Affairs Council hold its Institute on India and China. Some of this has been reported to you and at the end of the institute I also wrote Mrs. Benton, the librarian, at the world Affairs Council.
The success of the institute may be attributed to the fact that the Council here is an old established organization. None of the mistakes of UNESCO held in San Francisco were repeated. There were at least three valid Indians on the panels and the main speakers on China have been to China. The discussion groups were discussion groups despite undertones of rivalries between professors representing different universities, with a pretty united front against the views of newspapers and commentators who had no part in anything. The other Business and Professional men gave excellent talks and if there were any divisions or uncertainties, these were shared by the audience—I guess I was like nearly all of them, quite certain about India, quite uncertain about China.
I have already made my appointment with Mr. Adarker at the Embassy for April 27th. I have also made an excellent contact with one possessor Saha from Calcutta. I would like him and Professor Park to contact each other. Unfortunately Professor Park was not at Ann Arbor—though I believe I wrote him the date of my coming. But I did leave him copies of the procedures and he may be able to carry on from there.
I have not heard from Prof. Gilani yet. There was more news from Iraq and his Cousin’s term has been fixed at ten years. So I doubt very much whether I shall visit that country.
The general consensus seemed to be that we ought to recognize China and even go so far as to offer her foods from our surplus. There was nothing in the reports to cause me to feel that the country is other than an enormous prison, even thought an enlightened one. The damage by flood and the failure to increase crops show me no signs of well-being, and these are coupled by the apparent withdrawals before Burma and Nepal. Put I am not an expert and not even particularly interested enough to draw any conclusions.
The general feeling was that we should extend out financial aid to India, which seems so small in contract to Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam. I think the audience rather agreed. There were a number of semi-Gandhians represent (those who protest against tomb experiments, etc.) but by and large people were either realists or what I call reality-ists (upon which I pride myself.)
The conduct of the institute and the handling of all meetings was more impressive that the conclusions which were reached. Years of experience have developed chairmen and leaders, superior to anything I have yet encountered.
My trip to Ann Arbor might have been a disappointment. I found that there was a vacation or intercession. Not only was Dick Park not there but also Madame Age-Oglu was away. For years I was a close friend of her long since divorced and possibly dead husband; he was a leading authority on Rugs, Tapestries and Islamic Art in general. But I left a note about future plans to seek specimens and object d’art in Egypt.
I next contacted some Pakistani students, discovering one was a Soil Major. He invited me to Id Festival where all the Muslims were to join. It was noteworthy that the Palestinians were in large abundance and the Turks, surpassingly, far outnumbered the Arabs. Today we hear about the Turks abandoning religion and the Arabs often using Islam as facade. There I learned that there is now a complete American Islamic Movement headed by one Mr. Khalid of Dearborn, who is in close touch with both Al-Azhar and Cairo. In turn this will be of value to me when I reach UAR.
On my return I found a large envelop from Jonathan Garst, brother of the man who was Khruschev’s host in Iowa. This is a fertilizer program for India. I am going to share it with Professor Saha and then perhaps take it on to Washington. While there are some divergences in view—he leans toward chemical rather than organic fertilizers—the plan cannot be dropped. My main difference seems to grow out of his overlooking the nitrogenous and other food values in the grasses there, particularly in that angel-devil Bermuda Gases, the curse of all gardeners and the blessing of many farmers. It has very high and fine food value for cattle, goats and some sheep. (This was also discussed by me at Kew Gardens which has some of the best Grass experts in the whole world.)
Yesterday I also read about the perfection of a new Miticide for Strawberries at the Agricultural Experimental Station at Wooster, Ohio. I am going there on the 11th and shall collect data, writing to Giannini Hall (Prof. Ryerson) and also seeking literature on Strawberries to send to my friend mentioned above in Simla. He is in close contact alike with the Agricultural and Forestry Experimental Stations in North India.
The University of Michigan has a set-up for Asian Studies which is close to what I should advocate. There have been so many debacles (locally UNESCO and the American Academy; elsewhere such nonsense at the university of Chicago and Yale), that we need some more institutions and institute which give news first, views afterwards, if at all.
Somehow or other I am always keeping busy and am becoming self-assured. But sometimes the best way to success is to listen and take suggestions—then do something. I am hoping to call on Chester Bowles when I reach Washington in regard to some of the above.
Samuel L. Lewis
April 2, 1960
1610 Lombard St
San Francisco, Calif.
An article, “How to be a Buddhist? How to be a Buddha!” appears in the recent issue of “The Western Buddhist” with my name as author and from the world’s point of view I am the author. But from another point of view, when it comes to dharma-transmission there is no such thing as authorship. This I am going to try to explain now.
Prof. Suzuki has been here and has been much admired; Alan Watts has been here and started a few controversies over his personality. I called on a lady the other day at her request and said: “You have a very pressing problem, it is written all over you. If we discuss the problem we may be making it real and heavy; if we do not discuss the problem it may remain with you and I shall look like an escapist. We take headache tablets and I don’t know whether I can remove this problem or not, but we can fixate the mind either so it may deal with the problem, or even the problem may go away.” So this lady who had attended lectures by Suzuki and Watts got her first lesson in meditation. She had been to many lectures and she did not even know the first steps in meditation.
Now I sign a paper and people will read it and praise me mostly for the article and this will show that do not understand the article. Suppose the Roshi stood in front of me and said something in Japanese and it was translated and I took notes in English; that would be oversimplifying it although in a certain sense something like that happened. Only when one is with the Roshi, one is not, in the sense of being a discrete ago and it is impossible to take notes.
You chant Prajna-Paramita, you read it in translation, but that does not always mean that the Prajna-Paramita Hridaya is understood. I met one of Senzaki’s pupils. I told her she looked like old Man-Mountain himself and I had a great secret to tell her. Then I whispered to her “Hridaya” and said she would understand and she understood and there was nothing more for what word contains everything old Fat Stomach gave me.
You have studied Vedanta and in the Taittiriya Upanishad it says we have five bodies: flesh, breath, mind, intelligence and bliss. The pre-Buddha Dharma said that and the post-Buddha Dharma is still Dharma; there is no second Dharma. It is the same as you find in the Christian Bible where it is called “Logos.” Logos is the same as Dharma, there is no difference although you can have a thousand lectures and be thoroughly confused.
What language did Saito-san use to me, with me, on me and me? Being Dharma, he tackled all five avenues together, flesh, breath, mind, intelligence and bliss. Then he added the Charlotte Russe on top which we call Prajna; only in the five avenues there is communication and in Prajna there is no one to communicate or to communicate to. I knew everything he said or meant long before it was translated. Bingo!
In the samsara you get complete attunement and induction, like in the attunement of pitch in sound; and the attunement in electrical induction—when these unite we get Radio attunement, all stations together. The Roshi grabs the pupil and shouts at him in all five languages and in the Prajna beyond samsara he does not say a word, because it is not necessary. So the whole attention is held and the ego of the pupil hasn’t a chance.
Sure, Roshi Taizen explained the Buddha-transmission, the Sangha-Transmission, the Dharma-transmission; and despite all the noise pounded out by intellectuals one had telepathy and super telepathy and blending of egos and more on top of that, all at once. The Roshi did not just talk; when he did you realized—all five levels, flesh, breath, mind, intelligence and bliss. From the intelligence we get the Buddhist term alaya-vijnana. From the bliss we get the seed of the realization when Kasyapa shouted “Ananda” to Buddha’s cousin.
Thus one can say there is no difference between a samsara and Nirvana, or one can deny it and the sameness and difference have no meaning and all meaning.
The failure in the grasping of Buddhism, or Dharma, is that we try to grasp it with the ego. That is where Theravada fails. Shaku Soyen used to say; “There is nothing to receive and no one to receive you.” This is the reception and it does not look logical.
I can write all day about Roshi Taizen Saito who wanted me to become his disciple, so I was already his disciple. I never went to Tsurumi before and I was more at home in Tsurumi than in San Francisco and can’t explain it—although perhaps I lived there in former lives.
I am new for the first time putting this in my diary and being lazy, use this as an excuse to write to you. You may read this or have it read by anybody. Kato-san will understand it without looking and “Professor” Vrat could not understand it if he read it a million times, so as we say “bye-bye, blackbird.” Books written on Zen and Buddhism now all condemn the Englishmen and Europeans who have been writing books. But like the lady above, there is till no meditation and I am a mad man to write this, but when you get tired of TV you can read this over and also my article.
Remember, you are already Bodhisattva and in a little while you will learn to pick up the club or stick and whack anybody that comes your way. (You can whack Beatrice with your lips but is the same thing.)
Samuel L. Lewis
April 3, 1960
Dr. Walter J. Fischel
Department of Near East Studies
University of California
Berkeley 4. Calif.
In re: Muqaddimah and other subjects
Dear Dr. Fischel:
As a free roving Ambassador for the University of California, perhaps I should have visited you before embarking on a projected journey which may take me across Asia from one end to the other. As I am going entirely on my own and have at least three huge projects in mind, I found it impossible to visit all the presumably interested departments on the Campus. One never knows exactly what type of reaction will be obtained—if satisfactory one has to spend more time than one has in reserve (this happened this year); if unsatisfactory one can only depart in chagrin (this happened previously but the negative personalities have since been disciplined for quite different reasons, but close enough to bring satisfaction now.)
The three projects I had in mind were:
a. Exchange of crop data, especially to carry information to lands with surfeits of deserts and salt-encrusted soils.
b. To engage in real cultural exchanges with two-way traffic; indirectly to combat the somewhat unwholesome of effects or defects of Mortimer Adler’s.
c. To further programs already instituted for peace efforts through the arts with some emphasis on Islamic Arts, to fill a big gap.
In the latter regard I have already been to Ann Arbor. Unfortunately Mrs. Aga-Oglu was away—I had been a close friend of her former husband. Also your former colleague, Dick Park was away thought I had written him; the reason for his absence may be known to you. Fortunately I was in Cleveland during the “Giants of Asia Institute.”
There I met, among others, Prof. B.S. Gilani. My surmise of his background was correct. I have previously met one of his cousins, at the Iraqi Embassy in Washington. At that time I was studying al-Shadili.
My immediate reason for writing, no doubt, is that I obtained a copy of The Muqaddimah in Los Angeles and have been reading it assiduously. The criticism I make of this work is the same as I must make of the grand white Memorial Library here in Cleveland, that there are hosts of books in the library, listed on classifications which simply do not hold. Ikhwan-Issafa is listed with Indian literature because the issue on hand was published in that country. The best Urdu and Sindi books are so listed, too.
In 1930 I called on your former colleague, the late Professor Popper. He was then enthusiastically studying Al-Ghazzali. He could not understand how a person could know Sufism without studying the great philosopher. But the Iranian says; “Tasawwuf consists of experiences and not definitions.” If wisdom consists of experiences and not definitions, it cannot be obtained through philosophical books—a point on which I stand far apart from many of your colleagues in this country and in Europe.
Professor Arberry is held in high repute in many parts of the Occident. Not so in the lands visited. When the—to me—splendid Jewish Encyclopedia was compiled, it was written largely if not entirely by Jewish scholars. The same is true of the forthcoming Buddhist Encyclopedia. When the “Encyclopedia of Islam” was written, it showed “wonderful scholarship.” This two-way gimmick—and it is nothing but a gimmick—of restricting certain religious compendia to devotees, and permitting scholars to do the work in other fields may go well with scholars but it does not go well with masses. At the present moment I understand there is a new Encyclopedia of Islam in which Muslims have been given a major part in the project—something badly needed.
One reason I hesitated to call on your further was because of the influence Rom Landau has had around the Bay region. No doubt he is a friend of Kings and pupil of Arberry. But he has had little standing in the Islamic world and he soundly thrashed me in class for using the words Khankah and tekkya for zowiya, a word which may not even the spelled correctly here. This man’s knowledge of North Africa does not extend to the Arab World as a whole, and his knowledge of the Arab World does not extend to Islam as a whole.
The same is even more true of your colleagues around Chicago, one of the most highly regarded insists that Sufism has much to do with the downfall of Islam, especially the refusal of Sufis to take part in politics. Mutawakkul, the Tartars, the Great Plagues and Tamerlang may be by-passed—in order to prove a subjective thesis. I was not in India three days before I met the Honorable Syed Mahmud, a highly placed member of the Chisti Order of Dervishes, the then Under-Secretary of Foreign Affairs, chief under Nehru.
Or you can test this yourself by going to the Ferry Building and talking to the staff of the Indonesian Consulate. Just inquire if disciples in Sufism partake in politics or not…. Of course I intend to call on the Embassies of Sudan and Nigeria also just to find out a few things that a “professor” and especially those who were born in Europe do not know and sometimes do not want to know. The College of the Pacific, influenced by Rom Landau, would not permit me to enroll courses there, on subjects I lectured to teachers and specialists in Pakistan! And for which I am en route now to Aligarh University in India.
(I can only believe in the end that the University of California will take account more of the Universities which I shall be visiting and perhaps speaking to in foreign lands than this absolute rejection by the school in Stockton—which has no standing abroad anyhow. )
In 1930, despite Popper, I visited the White Library for the first time, chiefly to list Sufi Poetry. I came upon Efleki, “Lives of the Adepts” which was read in French. I also came upon my first references to Ibn Khaldun which were either read in French or through direct translations from that language. Efleki semanticizes Al-Ghazali by relating actual experiences of Sufis, which so far as I can fathom are norm to this line of development.
It had been my intention to visit either Cleveland or New York and make book lists of available works in order to promote a real two-way traffic in cultural exchange. Fortunately I have friends here who sent for me about the time of this decision so I have not had to depend upon my limited though ample resources. I have gone over much of the Islamic and Arabian literature. Despite opposition of the San Francisco Muslims, Landau and the University of Chicago; despite the fact that I have obtained my knowledge other than through universities (for the most part) I do know of some literatures which my would-be mentors do not know—such as Fihrist and Ikhwan-i-Safa. Furthermore my training in Sufism (or tarikat) has been such that there is an appreciation and understanding of Rumi and Ibn l’Arabi. And I have been fortunate enough to have been able to study the Grand Sheikh Abdul Kadiri-Gilani under a living Pir-o-Murshid.
In passing from listing book to reading them I find a large number assume a knowledge of Sufism, and The Muqaddimah must be placed in the same class. There are a number of assumptions about readers’ knowledge which will hardly hold for the vast majority of Western people. As my own studies have included both social and natural sciences, as well as non-European history, the understanding of terms like “prophet” and “saint” is almost automatic.
I have no intention here of insisting on the “truths” of tasawwuf, although I have been able to explain to highly developed Muslims that some Sufic terms are either implicit or explicit in contemporary science. I have been able to demonstrate this in a world between Botany and Chemistry through thousands of self-conducted experiments, the fruits of which will be shared in the Orient.
I must add here, presuming you are of Hebrew descent, that the Kabbalistic interpretations of Aleph, Mem, Shin are not different from the Sufic interpretations of Kemal, Jemal, Jelal and I must avoid imposing what may appear to be personal ideas on another. Truth, to me, is grander than any presentation or reflection on it. It is only that in Sufism cognizance is taken of all the knowledges and wisdoms of earlier dates which have been so synthesized and integrated.
It is therefore quite likely that I shall be lecturing on “The Muqadimmah” with some appreciation and perhaps even with some understanding. I do not know professor Rosenthal nor am I sure whether I shall stop in Connecticut at all. (I am going to Harvard U. however.) And I may also call at the Bollingen Foundation in New York. I do feel, however, that when I return, the various departments of the University will take some things into account which may be regarded as real research or scholarship.
I have not been in the Near East and do not, of course, know what kind of welcome would be extended. But I feel the supreme need of greater understanding between the United State and the Afro-Asian bloc and hope to do something about it.
Samuel L. Lewis
Ahmed Murad Christi
c/o Mrs. P. Harris
14901 Lorain Ave.,
Cleveland Il, Ohio
Dr. Franz Rosenthal,
Department of Semitic Languages,
New Haven, Conn.
Dear Professor Rosenthal,
In re: The Muqaddimah
The three volumes of this major opus of Ibn Khaldun were purchased by me before leaving California. I have since written a preliminary review to Dr. Walter Fischel because I am a sort of roving ambassador for the University of California and a lifetime member of the Alumni Society thereof.
My purpose in coming to Cleveland has been to promote a valid two-way traffic in the grand literatures, balancing the establishment of libraries by the U.S.I.S., Asia Foundation and a host of competing semi-missionary societies—by the imports of grand literatures of Asia.
My education in this field is a most unusual one because at the time of my youth there were very few Asian studies of any kind in the West. Later on I did meet Prof. Popper in Berkeley who could not understand how a person could know Sufism without first studying Al-Ghazzali. I have heard like remarks with the substitution of other names than the Persian philosopher, overlooking his major premise: “Sufism consists of experiences and not definitions.”
In these days when yet almost anybody may speak on mysticism excepting the mystic, it becomes almost more astounding and even offensive when the presumably self-proclaimed mystic has learned his science in the laboratory and not in textbooks and has done some original research work too, which made him a welcome guest in many parts of the Orient and is shortly to make him a welcome guest of the Agricultural, Horticultural and Botanical departments of the Ohio State University. In this case, science consulted of experiences and not definitions—and there has been no argument over it.
You can understand my sensitivity when I tell you after I returned from the Pathan country I was challenged by a colleague of yours with the net result that in a few days I was admitted into the Naqshibandi order of Dervishes and a few days later was addressing the staff of Punjabi University and later some of the most important Philosopher of Pakistan on Tasawwuf.
The experiences in Pakistan were exactly of the opposite nature where one finds the chief instructor of Islamic studies in California a non-American, non-Muslim. Where the UNESCO conference of 1957, purporting to bring Asia and American closer together, imported a non-American, non-Muslim as the ”expert” despite the fact that the chief speaker, the late Dr. Bokhari of Peshawar was both a Sufi and representative at the UN.
This last fact is of no interest or importance to your colleagues at the University of Chicago, nor are they going to change their opinions despite the tea and welcome I had from the Hon. Syed Mahmud, quondam Under Secretary of Foreign Affairs in New Delhi, and a leading Sufi, nor from reading some of the official issues of the present of recent Central Government in Indonesia, etc., etc.
You can understand this sensitive but negative position further when I tell you that on trying to introduce some of my researches to the R.A.S. in London, their reply was: “But, Mr. Lewis, you are wasting your time, all the research work has been done on that subject.” (Quite untrue.) So I asked them if they had a notable Sufi work. “Never heard of it.” “Please look it up.” They found it and on opening it elected me a member at once—to save face.
Now this sort of thing does not make for good international relationships and I am here in Cleveland listing a large number of Asian Works, attention so far being centered on Islamic and Arabian literature. This is difficult because part of the library system has been based on the assumed relationship of the governments of 1900-1930 to traditional literatures. And one finds Ikhwan-i-Safa with Indian books because the edition they have here was published in that land. Indeed I find a tremendous number of Sufi works here, not listed under Sufism of mysticism. I am not going to criticize or correct this, however.
This fact is mentioned largely because many books, like The Muqadimmah mention Sufism without defining or explaining it. This is made more complicated because of a sometime noblesse oblige among some Occidental orientalists and linguists, wherein they over-evaluate the work of colleagues, which works are spurned in actual Asia and are looked at with even contempt or dismay.
Actually I am much more concerned with the shortcomings of the Mortimer Alders than with the short-comings of persons with whom I have not had cordial relations. In the latter case I find that they do not have cordial relations either in lands, which they either presume to represent or have been accepted by the public as so representing. This applies largely to Asia, sometimes to Africa, to Europe not at all. Europe has its grand literature and litterateurs.
This work of yours belongs to the real “Greet Books” of the world and may be so regarded ultimately. In 1930, when I first visited Cleveland, I first became acquainted with Ibn Khaldun. One had to rely then either on French works or the separate author’s translations from the French. It became evident that the sage was both one of the most profound and most capable writers in Islam. Some recent books are bringing to light his prowess as a social scientist functioning long before his times. But I find him encyclopedic.
There may be a temptation, off hand, to compare The Muqaddimah with Ain-I-Akbari. Both works are encyclopedic, both envision the larger area possible of the time, both were written by men associated with high government positions, and the authors—despite your colleagues in Chicago—were profound students and disciples of Sufism.
This last point must be re-emphasized because one of my goals is to go to Aligarh University where they have already accepted my theme for a thesis of “The Reconciliation of Oriental Wisdom with Contemporary Science.” This will be done first with Sufism and then I may move to other arenas and areas. This is easy and possible because I have already contacts and friends in high places in many lands of Asia. My own points of view maybe by-passed here but one is often accepted in faraway places by what he knows rather than where he leaned it; or, in case of “wisdom,” who was the spiritual teacher or teacher. This last is very easy for me, of great importance abroad, of little significance here.
Nevertheless in January of this year I received my appointment as American (and international) representative of the Chisti order whose headquarters are in Ajmir and I am also closely associated with the Nizami Chistis of Hyderabad, New Delhi and elsewhere. Their acceptance and nominations comes from knowledge, as Al-Ghazzali would say, of experiences, or of “states” and “stages.” Consequently I shall be in position to lecture on The Muqadimmah and to write reviews—which will be favorable—but do not wish to do this without some acknowledgement from your good-self.
I arrive in New York about May 1 and within a weak must go to Harvard University to meet several professors in different departments there. I do not know whether it would be feasible to stop off at New Haven on my return (I must get there as soon as possible), whether you would be in that region (because of vacation), or whether a personal meeting would be in any way profitable to either or both.
Despite all I have written, despite Mortimer Adler and his competing “great books limited to Europe prior to 1910,” I want to see universal knowledge and universal cultural exchange and I believe sir, you have made a marvelous contribution in this field.
Samuel L. Lewis
Ahmed Murad Christi
April 13, 1960
My dear Harry:
I arrived here last night after 1½ days at the Agr. Exp. Station at Wooster and it proved more than profitable. I have a habit of putting my foot in my mouth—the right way, and don’t understand it. I don’t know if I wrote about the time I was standing in line in Cleveland talked. The man in front of me was an agricultural Adviser, just had returned from Libya and showed me his reports. Later he left to go to Kabul, Afghanistan and we agreed if I get to Peshawar, I should call on him. He has spent some time at Giannini Hall.
And incidentally two men from Davis are at Wooster, getting what I call the Smithfield Ham treatment. Smithfield is a stamp mill in Virginia; the hams are brought in, stamped and shipped out at a much higher price. These boys come to Wooster and return to California as Ohio State “experts” and are sure go get much higher salaries—maybe things should be done that way.
I had to speak last night and am spending the morning getting some things off my chest before going to the Campus. My present doctor, Dr. Blanche Baker, 150 Delta St., used to reach Biology at Ohio State and has given me introductions, first to Dr. Clifford Cutright, Chief Entomologist, Wooster; and then to Dr. Mayers, head of the Botany Dept. at Columbus. But so much happened the 1st days that I had better “diary” it before it gets cold and too much more happens—“it can happen here” and does to me, but usually in a favorable manner these days. (Boy, I even met another Indian financial expert in Cleveland, from the Embassy; if I don’t meet the big boys I meet the rich ones!)
My welcome at Wooster was another one of those things. I am advocating a Tomato program for India, partly a/c Vitamin C and to balance starch diets. The Wooster plant is full of men, headed by one prof. Alexander, which is advocating a Tomato program for the whole world. I was not exactly escorted out; indeed I had to escape to get away.
I saw greenhouse after greenhouse of Tomato tests. Some for fertilizing programs, some for temperature and long- and short-day tests, some for disease and pest control. The vines in some instances are very large. In general, I think 65° or 70° made a better optimum than the lower temperatures, but too high and you get pest; and of course, different moisture problems.
One series of optima are being worked out in the greenhouse and another through breeding. I am enclosing a sheet here in that respect. I may or may not have some other materials to send but you are on at least one mailing list now.
Before going ahead, I have run into some so important I am not telling this to anybody also yet. I have written short reports (to John Wingate, copy to Horace Hair) but not covering the “trade secrets.” Under your guidance, and also under Pete sending me out to Nurseries, I discovered and had collaborated that change of regime was much better than any fertilizer in the market. Although I do lean toward the fish emulsions, and this might include whale emulsions, plants are individuals (here at Wooster they are treated so) and panaceas do not work.
I consider it incumbent that you get in touch with Dr. Clifford Cutright. The way may be open because I have given your name to Dr. Diller, head of the Forestry Research Section, to be on the mailing list. And incidentally I did not give any other names, even of some of my best friends and contacts. I carbon this for my diary. The only other names I have given Dr. Duller were of foreign experimental stations.
Dr. Cutright first introduced me to Kelthane. Then to a rotary system of spraying (perhaps analogous to rotary feeding). Kelthane is most beneficial after DDT. Then other spray materials are used, often remnants of better known produces of other years, later discarded.
To be specific. The staffs were delighted when I told them that the Fly is the bane of West Pakistan. All the newspapers, magazines and commentators, especially those who have not been there; and all the gimmick groups wanting money collect for the “starving” foreigners. There are starving foreigners and often their governments are learning to look after them. But this poor soul who dwelt with natives, found that in the moist countries the Mosquito is the problem and in the dry ones the Fly and that is where most complaints are and I heard that before and after.
The fly and Coddling Moth have been given the most attention because of failures after DDT or other poisons, building up resistances; and also because the Mite remains. Then Kelthane is tried—not strong applications here—and then they went back to their shelves and took some of the discarded powders and liquids and used them, with marvelous results. The different poisons cooperated with each other. (If you know about human beings, the T.B., Cancer and other patients have opposite immunities. Insects also have opposite or opposing immunities. “Some little bug is going to be gotten some day.“
I am not telling anybody else about the possibilities of rotary spraying but leave it to you. When I return, and it may be a long time, I might talk, but by that time you may have students or others who can get his information’s through and from you. Good luck here, Harry.
There are several orchards and each tree is treated as an individual and has a case-history. One plot consisted of trees given plantings in different soils. Some of these soils are imported and some are mixed in situ like you did with the Peonies some time back. Basically one plot of Peaches was being submitted to a primary soil, feed and water program; another to a disease-and pest-program. It is only that in the first case the ultimate record are on the yield and size of fruits and in the other, on the effectiveness of medicines. But of course the two programs are related in final synthesis.
The effectiveness of some bacterial and virus poisons on insects does not work out because of the difficulty of getting pure materials and the case in which foreign spores, etc. can get in bringing unsuspecting havoc. All materials are carefully warehoused during the year.
Actually grasses undergo similar programs—one of the soil, fertilizer water control; the other for pest and disease control. But they did one thing here they did not do at UCLA, added a mowing program—not only different grasses, but different effects in cutting. Of course the grass is always better when imported and men are the same all over. I think I told you that the Japanese want Korean grasses, we want Kikuyu, India wants Bermuda—and here they are going great guns with all kinds of Bents.
I’m sorry, at this point, Harry, to tell you that in 1½ days one has time only for so much and there are, of course, emotional reactions to surprises and good-will. So I could not follow all the grass programs, did not interview the Agronmists at all—my own determination, but the door is open either for a later visit, or for your own better contacts here.
Dr. Diller showed me his Arboretum and said he believed it was different from any in the United States. I did know the similarity with the Japanese system. The Bald Cypress grows next to the Dawn Redwood. Sequoia does not take the cold, Cunninghamania manages to squeeze through but Cryptomeria do fine. Of all the big Redwoods that has the best chance here but the Dawn Redwoods do well (better than the Cypress). In this connection too, the Japanese Yews have all survived a very long, if not too cold winter, far better than the English and Irish types. Yews are grown all over and the Japanese make a good winter tree here. I was not so pessimistic as Diller about the future of the other Yews, that change of color did not mean death and one would have to wait for warmer weather for final decision.
Most of the Pines and Firs yield seedlings and it is generally presumed these are not crosses. The Japanese Abies firma does very much. Evidently Spruces and high mountain trees survive but do not grow as rapidly. There were far more Conifers than Deciduous trees in the Arboretum.
Oak Armillaria and Dutch Elm Diseases are still of great concern. Vector control has been difficult. I mention that poison and exhaust gases have done much harm to Madrone trees and was told that the same happened to most trees in Cleveland, in the industrial area where only Ailanthus has survived and is not happy. There is now an over-all effort to control all poison gases and wastes in Cleveland but the crusade has just begun.
It has been a very bad year for the Maples. The Sugar crop is way down and the leaves are not out. The Station is experimenting with new types of crosses to increase quality and quantity of sugar but this is too new to get any report on.
I did not go around with a notebook as I did in Japan but will try to carry some paper with me henceforth. I shall also check here with publications, etc.
Strawberry culture involves another matter. The Pacific Coast, the East, and Japan have totally different programs and varieties. When I get to Washington, and New York, I shall take it up with contacts and principals to encourage more exchanges in literature and reports on this wonderful crop. No doubt libraries do get all the data, but they often remain in the stacks and the experimenters do not know what is going on elsewhere. I believe warm countries can have ever bearing types.
From your end I told several of the Fruit men about Islay and Catalina Cherries. They don’t know anything about them, indeed never heard of them. The idea of a fruit ripening in September appealed to them for marketing reasons. Of course one does not know when a cross would ripen but I entirely agree with you about endless and new possibilities in this field. Despite its large stone, Stewed Catalina Cherries and pies are wonderful—far better than Coloradoans. But I did not offer any information about California other than Davis, which they have.
A short incursion into the library reveals that they have all reports from all States there, all bulletins but not in the rooms I visited, a particularly large Botanical or Horticultural library. They also have the cross indices so it would take only a little time to get the latest on any subject.
Going through the publications I concluded we are far, far ahead on our soil and tissue tests for plants. The methods used for checking trace elements and residue like Strontium90 reveal we are so far ahead of Russia here, there is no comparison. Most of their feeding tests are still with NKP. On the physical side of soils, growing out of Geology, they are certain on a par or even way ahead. But on the chemical and infinitesimal checks, there is no comparison.
On the actual grounds there is a Boron deficiency but not Cobalt. Grass plots are also checked for both Cattle and Sheep—very separate experiments. But I did not go into Husbandry at all. Outside the Station there are large genetic breeding stations (not just studding); and inside they train veterinarians of all sorts.
There are several separate farms more or less connected with Wooster. Originally separate, this has been incorporated with Ohio State. This happened in Pakistan too, where the Abbottabad Station has been incorporated with Peshawar. This prevents duplication and gives excellent Staff training. On the other hand heads of Departments have to visit every University plant all over the State for advice, consultation, etc.
Although Northern Ohio is being rapidly industrialized, the soil has still tremendous possibilities and with modern research, and internal cooperation, farmers can prosper.
I don’t know what the effect of these visits will have on my going to Greenhouses and Nurseries around Cleveland. I understand there is the largest series of commercial greenhouses anywhere in that region, but the long, cold weather discouraged me previously and I may not have much time on my return. I now have many friends and contacts and so engagements and then to Washington on the 25th. Then I must be in New York, May 1st.
I have to presume here I shall go to the Arnold Arboretum—I have to visit Harvard anyhow. So I put my New York address in case you have any suggestions in this regard. And don’t be surprised if you get another deluge, although I can not promise. This P.M. and the next two days I will try to spend on the campus, I hope.
Samuel L. Lewis
April 16, 1960
My dear Florie:
The grapevine has preceded me to this place and I received a number of welcomes. The major ones came from men associated with the Plant Sciences, but some of the Muslims knew I was coming also.
The latter live in quandaries. The Pakistanis want to be religious; the Arabs do not, or will not accept an “Ajami” imam. I have not tried to meet any Arabs, but this is due in part also to the fact that quite a few of the Pakistanis are going in for Agronomy, Agriculture, Plant Pathology, etc., so we have several interests in common.
The great difficulty, as I see it, is that the Muslims do not know how to get along in America. On the one side—and you can sympathize with them—they are not enamored with so many motor cars and so many slightly clad girls. On the campus here there are girls who wear about as much as one sees in Hollywood or Venice, Calif. There is an anti-beauty craze, little feminine modesty, etc. I am told that this is largely a local issue.
I did not see anything like it at Ann Arbor and I am sure it will not be the same at Columbia and Harvard. It is producing a large crop of young man who will not associate with girls at all and they will be called “homosexuals” but the causes are far more revulsion than egocentricity.
I attended a service in Cleveland celebrating Buddha’s birthday. The chief speaker, though Japanese, had a better picture of American psychology than he did of English. He gave no orthodox talk; without avoiding emotionalism, he was sane, sensible and informative. The service was a ritual, so arranged that one could be satisfied with it without accepting Pure Land Buddhism.
Both the ceremony and sermon involved Mahayana traditions and a general acceptance of Mahayana, including Zen. It was, in a word, that Broad Buddhism which I like. Not only that, almost half the audience were white Caucasians. The Japanese came next but were hardly a third of the group. There were Malays, Chinese (unusual), and some Negro Americans, too. So not only was the service attractive, it had the desirable results.
This is something Muslims have not learned. Those whom I have met so far are so concerned with the preservation of traditions that they ignore the environment in which they find themselves and nobody is giving Americans much information about the near East and its religions. Indeed there is a semi-strike on in New York involving the line on which I have backed passage.
I am going to have a serious talk, I hope, with the Imam in Washington. I am not over-sanguine. Even our courses in “Comparative Religion” are inadequate. I realize more and more, that Uncle Louis’s efforts were more abortive than evil. I got satisfactory but amusing responses on the possibilities of Chinese and Arabs offering instruction in European philosophies. The presence on the lecture platform of well dressed, courteous, affable gentlemen does not bring any knowledge of Asian teachings and our self-satisfaction with many speakers does not allay the suspicions of us abroad, nor will it.
All my meetings with scientific professors have been most satisfactory. I am making long reports for my memoirs, both to record the events and to affect, if possible, links abroad. I have had nothing but cordial responses to my ideas for afar and only hope I shall meet with some welcome in Washington. I complete the meetings Monday when I meet a professor who has charge of the Asian students in Agricultures. After that I go to Cleveland again.
There is no question in my mind that through the peaceful sciences we can win friends near and far; and through our pseudo-morality, the movies, daily press, etc., we shall only offend. If religion is the topic in the forthcoming campaign the U.S. will cease to be a great power. Our allies in the U.N. have been mostly the Catholic Latin Nations. We have offended large groups within the Afro-Asian block and we do not win their affection by superficial emotionality.
No doubt there will be mail when I return to Cleveland, whether from you or others. This is going to keep me busy, for my time is short and there is always much to do. As this is one of the leading Universities in the world in certain fields (Ohio State), I am very happy to have come here.
Sunday I speak on the “Light Body” to explain the betrayal, crucifixion and resurrection. Many of the scientists and some of the citizens that I meet here are friends of Dr. Baker, and her introductions have been invaluable.
April 16, 1960
My dear Harry:
I am very glad I have come this way. While I write now I shall have to go over my literature or information received, possibly offering you new information, possibly telling what you already know. It is always the “wrong” time to visit any place. The Forsythias are out in bloom and often blend with the Daffodils. But before going on let me say I spent some time with Prof. Chadwick, then more with Prof. Kiplinger, had most interesting conversations and little time for notes.
The soil here is heavy and one is surprised to find so many bulbs growing. There has to be some amendment and conditioner. The latest experiments are being made from bark-wood-baste, sometimes grounded. This has many of the same functions as Peat Moss, has a somewhat higher pH, and is a product of local industry. Indeed there seems to be some possibility of the replacement of Peat by bark material but there will have to be tests on the pH. Thus you can’t use it on Rhododendrons or even Camellias.
The Rhodies are just beginning to perk up. There are two problems here, one being to find suitable low shrubs which can stand the cold winter; the other to find any broad-leafs that can be adapted. Generally the larger the plant the better the possibilities, but this means that one has to search for low shrubs.
In this region not only is there attention to Yews but to Junipers. There is also a study of prostrates made at Wooster which I failed to report. The winter difficulty is not the frost-kill, but the shock. The weather is far more irregular here than at Cleveland. The cold does not always come gradual, but there have been drops of 80 degrees in a short time. Last year the Roses were cut to the ground.
Corn cobs are used here, being grounded up. They are spread out generally in the late fall, and another later in the Spring to compensate for the old ones which may have disintegrated. As the soil is basically a clay loam this is much more understandable than having bulbs. Plenty of manure is used all around and also Peat Moss. Western Ohio is alkaline, Eastern acid, and the weather is more equitable in the North—lake drainage, than in the central and Southern portions—Ohio Valley.
Extensive experiments are being made on ground covers, to find some which meet local conditions and they have come up with two varieties of Hedera. But it is a little early to get too many details. The problem here is frost tolerance while around Cleveland and Akron, it is tolerance toward factory waste, exhaust gases, etc. However thousands of people come here for consultation and twice a year they have short, extensive Nursery Men refresher courses.
The Campus on the whole is not so much a proving ground as a transition ground to enable Gardeners, Nursery Men and Greenhouse men to find out the latest. While they only keep one full time nursery-gardener on the job, during the coming months thousands of visitors come for information, advice and to see what is being done. Practically all the projects are being carried on by students. The Rose is the biggest plant in importance, and there are famous Rose gardens in the city and Rose shows from time to time. The Roses in the green house were observed in 1957 and I did not visit all departments because of the previous visit. The Vegetable man slightly remembered me.
There were at least two revolutionary changes in the Greenhouse. First the use of the Measuremix by Smith Precision Products Co, 1135 Mission St., South Pasadena. Because this is a California commodity I am not sending you the sheets; you may be acquainted with it already. The Greenhouse program is now to apply very weak applications of fertilizer with every watering and no special fertilizing otherwise. They have found nothing but good results. They have worked out programs which have proved invaluable and this was evident in the cursory examination of Carnations, Easter Lilies, Roses and especially Chrysanthemums.
The second revolutionary experiments concern controlled short- and long-day periods for plants before taking cuttings. So far this has been a relative matter. But this year they are instituting a program of absolute control, so they shall know exactly how many light-hours plants have been exposed to before taking the cuttings; and also have many exact light-hours for the cutting bench. So far there is enough evidence to find effectiveness on hard-wood cuttings, and even more of Conifers than of Broad-leafs.
(At this point let me say that Chadwick showed me the outside, Kiplinger the inside, for the most part, but of course experiments covered both.)
Chrysanthemums were the test crop, for the most part and this covered all kinds of things, perhaps involving every course you have. For instance the cut-flower industry here has been limited to the “carriage trade.” The students are encouraged to work on projects, limited to single plastic pots and comparatively small pots function where much larger ones are required for Easter Lilies—but at the moment the latter are also involved in the new enterprise. This is to flood the markets and chain stores with both pots and bouquets, which are available at a much lower price. The price is agreed backwards, that is, often a market price is agreed upon, permitting the retailer to have a 200% mark-up and thus one-third goes to the selling agent, whether the Student Body or Horticultural Society centering around the Greenhouse.
Chrysanthemums are now available all around the year and, of course, the Greenhouse projects included everything from singles on long stems, to masses in pots. The shoots are taken from the prop bench, given a single pinching, and then on their own. They bush out very well and at the moment look like ever-bearing plants.
While I visited the Greenhouse on Friday, the control—light and heat—over the Easter Lilies, showed assurance of blooms beginning Sunday and continuing during the week. This year they tell me that timing was very good but one is only sure of about 1/3 pots finding a market; it may be higher, of course—but no one counts on that; and, of course, there are some sales later, at reduced prices. Caution is always followed even when the whole crop is purchased. But Kiplinger was much more enthusiastic about the Chrysanthemums, and so was I, anyhow.
The same crop is being used in a number of test fertilizer experiments, with three degrees each of N, K, and P, but (otherwise there would be mere repetitions); all of this is connected with light control. The Greenhouse engineering has improved considerably, covering all sorts of factors such as snow-melting, draft currents—their origins, effect and control, etc. The fans and belts are operated to direct currents and heat either to where they are needed or can be measured. Even such small factors as drafts through key-holes are taken into effect, to insure fresh air; and the opening and closing of doors for the same purposes—just enough to permit fresh air to come in.
In these control experiments, precautions are taken such as rubbing off boots before entering the Greenhouse, not letting the feet touch the benches, etc. High N alone results in Pythium, and in turn this is watched, not stopped. But each plot on the test benches is well insulated from the others. The earlier experiments—from the previous semester—show that low P requires high moisture, and even then the lower leaves drop. (As I write, this could affect the Tobacco industry. High N means large lower leaves which often are so weighty they touch the ground and are more liable to attract insects, and in any case attract a lower price. If Tobacco could be grown as some of the Chrysanthemums were, with the main foliage higher up, it would attract a higher price. This is an afterthought and a deduction.)
I am writing this to you because I think you should become acquainted with the light-control factors in the N P K tests. Of course offhand the main discussions have been the K factors, the relation to photosynthesis, the effect of this on root cuttings, etc. And while I did ask questions and have some discussion it would be much better if you could carry on here.
I did succeed in convincing the whole staff that my job was to get the key people in different lands to communicate with each other. In the talks with or from both Chadwick and Kiplinger, it was obvious how experiments of this sort could be tried elsewhere with let us say, Sugar Cane as well as suggest ground waste from this for soil conditioning, etc. There was no question in my mind that the variations of Sugar Cane crops were at least part due to light-factors and the omission in the Orient of any attention to long- and short-day crops is a serious one which should be investigated.
Plastic materials for greenhouses do not stand up well. There is a gradual yellowing which is now turning into a darkish brown and so affecting the light-absorption and seriously. No doubt the standing up against breakage is wonderful but the replacements are not only more costly but more difficult. What is known as crazing (which I learned from ceramics) is now going on at a rapid rate. This involves collection of dust and dirt which is not microscopic in its effect and not always easily removed by some over-advertised products. Not only that, no student wants to spend time window-washing that he would prefer to put in with his plants.
The Greenhouse also acts as a hospital. There were a large number of African Violet patients, sent in by Greenhouses, stores and even individuals. All kinds of factors have led to the illnesses, but on the whole these are easily controlled, given time.
There is extensive attention given to household plants and the community shows much interest here. One Greenhouse is given over to the Plant Materials which have to be kept indoors. Students are supposed to learn the names of 2,000 plants for identification, before graduating. Of course when it comes to the large number of Yews, Junipers, etc. is surprising and the attention to Conifers is very great; on the other hand, though they may have to learn the names of trees and shrubs which grow in the Southern States, these are, on the whole, de-emphasized.
The Agricultural buildings are across the river from the main campus. Students go back and forth on regularly scheduled buses, which go both ways every hour. Parking is a great problem, with students, visitors, teachers and maintenance employees all having different parking grounds and rules. So the bus-system is the only way out.
The Cherry and Apple blossoms were just coming out yesterday. There was a cry for rain and early this morning (Saturday) there was a mild thunderstorm with sufficient drop. Fortunately many lawns were being cut just before the rain.
Between times there were a lot of other subjects touched upon such as disease-resistance stocks, genetics, etc. which can affect the success of our advisers abroad. Monday morning I go to the Agricultural side again to find out what is being done by teams they have already sent to Asia and are there. This fits in admirably with my theoretical program and in turn will be of use when I reach Washington (April 26).
I am hoping this letter will give you some ideas. The publications are somewhat behind. They are kept in the Agricultural Building, too. This involves not only all the Botanical Sciences in the widest sense of the term but Home Economics, Husbandry and Processing Industries.
I have already received several invitations to visit both Wooster and Columbus again—some coming from students on the campus. I am sending Horace a copy of this and another carbon goes in my diary. I do not overlook anything. As I told the Staff I do not know where I shall be living afterwards with at least a 50-50 chance of landing on a private estate with large projects involved. Or else, if I get further backing I might have to keep on hitch-hiking all over.
Samuel L. Lewis
April 26, 1960
I am sending copies of this to Florie Leonard in San Francisco, John Rockwell in San Rafael and “Bill” Hathaway in New York simultaneously. I realize—and I hope they do—that there is little time for separate letters. I always come to Washington with the assumption that the hotels are overcharging and I can’t afford to pay. Actually this is the only sensible thing to do for I was lucky to get even four days’ reservations.
I had to leave Cleveland suddenly for I was told that my ticket was not good on certain trains so I left Sunday night. The last day there was very similar to last days in the Orient. I was very successful in my morning talks, in answering questions, and quite out of the air revived the Sufi Movement with which I have been associated. And perhaps this revival did not come one moment too quickly. For it showed up all those persons who have stood in my way, that I have something to offer—and it helped open the doors here in Washington so quickly that this letter must be incomplete, not matter how much detail is in it.
This hotel is badly located for my personal business, being far away from Embassy Row. On the other hand it is just across the street from the House Office Building so I went at once to the offices of Congressman Shelley and Miller. I saw Miller and gave there my San Rafael address but I gave that in other places and it may be that mail will come to me there from time to time. (John, if so, please read before forwarding.) Shelley’s secretary telephoned Congressman Mund’s secretary so I could see him. He is en route from California but wants to see me. Anyhow I spent a long time at the Indian Embassy today.
This day started out very strangely—with persons at the UAR, Ceylon and Japanese Embassies away—and I walked out twice from the Mosque and was just going to leave when everything began to happen. The assistant director of the Mosque accepted my poetry, learned my background and right off I found a kindred spirit. I reported in detail what I had been doing in Cleveland and am to go back Thursday afternoon.
Then I visited the Sudanese Embassy, got some information (don’t know whether I shall go to that country or not); went to the UAR consular offices for my visa, and had them half laughing while I was filling out the forms, but have to bring my pictures—anyhow I go back in that region at least twice more. Then a very long interview at the Indian Embassy where the main persons were away but I evidently made friends. The doorman, an Englishman, wants me to write to him and I suspect I shall.
Later on I went to the Arab Information Office; the director was away but the girl knows Mr. Mehdi in S.F. (she also comes from Bagdad) and gave me a most important introduction in New York.) I also have the right introduction to the Al-Azhar University. The gentleman in N.Y. was once head of Cairo U., is now retired.
I can’t remember all details. Monday I called on my friend, Mr. Huq, at the Pakistani Embassy—it was most fortunate and propitious. For tonight I have been invited to attend a special meeting designed to form an Iqbal Society. I want to be a charter member. After all, Iqbal was my mentor in poetry and the reception of my own writings at the Mosque, etc. is going to push things fine for me.
After leaving Mr. Huq I spent some time with Mr. Heinlein at the American Friends of the Near East; I must return again tomorrow to find if Mr. Minor has returned. This meeting gave me everything that I might have wanted from the State Department. I also visited World Neighbors and must return. I do not know whether I shall join the group or not; it depends on details but not principles. We are in entire agreement. I am very happy to find myself finding Americans with whom I can associate.
At the State Department I had trouble. My old friends are removed—I must assume by promotion. A very pretty girl was trying to soothe me by “charm” and I only got information out of her by threat. I then went to the UAR desk and thus was in a certain sense “unnecessary” and was more like a love tete-a-tete than a meeting compensating for the other. The man was acquainted with Muqadimmah which I had read, approved of my work in Cleveland, etc., etc. I then saw a Mr. Perry at the Personal Service section and he is not aware of my background, but did give me some valuable suggestions. I may or may not work on them depending on interviews with my principals, a Mr. Hughes and Mr. Gammon in New York—on quite different missions—which will have to be reported later on.
These letters will be mailed before going to the Iqbal meeting. I understand that either the Iranian Ambassador or someone near to him will be chief speaker and I shall meet people from the Near and Middle East.
So far as some of my old associates in S.F. are concerned, all I can give them are coffin nails. The money that might have gone to S.F. for a Mosque has not gone to Cedar Rapids and a trained Imam too. They keep a file of all such matters here in Washington and those well or not well-meaning persons who stood in my way, and have been black-listed—though for different reasons—will have to learn the “facts” of life the hard way.
This machine is not yet under control. It has been very warm but cooler days are predicted. I have also visited the Nigerian Embassy. Warning to Southerners: Be careful of the darkie you kick, he may be a Prince or Cabinet Official! It is lucky I got to go with dark-skinned people in Cleveland—here you never know whom you are meeting.
The Mosque is beautiful but ornate. Lots of school children visit it. There are thousands here now. I missed the Cherries but not the Dogwoods and the city is very beautiful. I still have to visit some Congressmen, Senator Eagle (out of courtesy), at least the Burmese and Ceylon Embassies, perhaps Lebanon also. If any time will go to art galleries, but I have to be out anyhow because rooms are needed, so it is good to watch your pocketbook and not relax. Last time here I had to get out quick—all rooms reserved, but it has already more than paid me. I guess I have omitted a lot—too busy or excited and many new well-wishers. I ought to be a diplomat? Well, I am a diplomat! Of course not official and so effective.
I think I have already written about the tenders put out by the Sufi (dervishes) in UAR to become better known to and by Americans especially to carry on this Cold War to a success. When I return to California I may even go to court on this matter of non-objectivity in certain scholastic institutions unless some newspaper is willing to carry on a campaign.
You do not have to believe it, but there is a kind of conscious and also a kind of unconscious telepathy or empathy which brings us together. In Alexandria my contact (who has a high position in the UAR government) had the conscious faculty. In Port Said unconsciously my contact was a Sufi teacher. In Aden, where I stopped to make some purchases, my contact was another one. And here I met the Sufis very rapidly and shall meet more.
I am not in the least concerned with the acceptance of Sufi mysticism; I am concerned with the recognition that there are millions of us, and that we are unanimously opposed to those Nations and forces with which the U.S. is combating, but strange to say, we are either rebuffed, or recognized only so far by the foreign service. We have plenty of advertisements about “people-to-people” programs, but the actual operation of “people-to-people” is something else.
Because we do not have a real people-to-people program, even in this friendly government it is easy to start grapevine movements against the U.S. The one on the Christian-Islamic imbroglio above is an example. Monday I hope to visit the American Friends of the Middle East. They have done much to try to establish “semantic” relations between Christians and Muslims and the effort therefore is the success. Getting people to sit down together is to me, the recognition. Agreement is not so important.
The next underground stop is concerning India. The selection of Chester Bowles enables the underground-grapevine to say we, the U.S. are pro-Indian. When I was here before I saw the rather successful efforts of the commies to “prove” to the Pakistanis that we were pro-Indian in Kashmir; and to the Indians that we were pro-Pakistani. Our USIA programs, with their noble and lefty overtones, do not reach the masses. Our art and musical shows are nothing but boondoggling for those who need no such support.
Offhand, here as in UAR, I hope to emphasize agricultural cooperation as the basis for friendliness. Here the whole thing becomes complicated and unified. I have been urging more agricultural literature and less “true immortality” pulps. The Islamic distrust of Christianity here has nothing to do with the missions. The Protestant Churches are blamed for the lurid literature and surrealistic movies, and they themselves protest against them, but not loud enough. Islam now comes out for “home and mother” and in this the whole United States becomes the butt of rather successful attacks. Until Erick Johnston & Co. are removed, or until Hollywood itself supports true art, neutralism will continue and even increase.
The above, incidentally, is the compendium of a large number of conversations held before and repeated now in these last few days.
The percentage of people speaking English here has increased. Urdu, which bears some relation to it, is not an exact language. But the government is trying to systematize the teaching of both.
I met a large number of Asians on the ship, giving me more contacts. In general they held that both Great Britain and the United States are offering the scientific and cultural training needed in Asia. It is only when sensitivities are concerned we fall down. The staff at the Embassy here assents to my contention that it is a myth and a very bad myth that we do not discuss religion abroad. We are held to be materialists. This was the unanimous opinion of Hindus, Pakistanis, Pushtuns and Persian-Afghans, however else they differed. I do not know how long we shall continue to be limited by our myths. We have others.
These people, however they differ, live in psychological longevity. Metaphysically it makes them our superiors and more; but physically it tends to have them adhere to principles rather than actions. The two need to be brought closer together.
I shall be with Americans in Multan and learn what they are doing there; then go to Lahore to plan an ambitious series of programs. Then to Rawalpindi where my friend Ahmed Bashir Minto, once of San Francisco lives, and where the government is moving, then to Abbottabad, my “home.” From Abbottabad I must move in all directions.
Samuel L. Lewis
My dear Murshida:
Henceforth you may be hearing from me anywhere, any time or not at all. In the Cause of God one sets not his path and sets it, goes forth and does not go and serves in reverence, love and humility and sometimes also with a blare of trumpets.
The ways of man are negative, the ways of God are positive as I have written:
The strong say “Yes” to God,
The weak say “No” to man—
This has been the habit
Since the world began.
Whenever I see a negative given, I know it comes from the tongue and mind of those who fear, those who are really weak, those who do not overlook their own virtues and overlook their short-comings. But no matter how determinate man is, he cannot hold against the flow of time any more than King Canute did against the waves.
The last interview today was with Mr. Minor, who is a friend of Terry and yourself. I made it clear that I was a cultural representative of Sufism and though empowered to give spiritual instructions my work was in the cultural field, and yours presumably in the teaching field. I said no more. Pir-o-Murshid, God, then my present Pir-o-Murshid, then the Sufi Brotherhoods have asked me to conduct this work. The Sufi Brotherhoods are recognized even politically. The dervish can enter where others do not or cannot, and he does and he receives welcomes.
Washington has been nothing but a series of welcomes, some of them the warmest received outside of Asia, and these warm welcomes come from both Asians and Americans (and you can throw in a few Africans, too.) The warm heart is never outside. Plans that were thwarted by human will are only thwarted in time; in the world of principle, they are not stopped. And so ultimately they come from the world of principle into manifestation.
I keep no list of autographs nor record the Prime Ministers and Ambassadors I have met. Tomorrow I must return to the Mosque for some long consultations. If they follow the pattern of my interviews the last few days they will become very important. I become now the recognized traveling dervish. Man, indeed no man can stop this; only in the Name of Allah can it be stopped, and when one travels in the Name of Allah, who will stop?
Plans to build up friendships, honest friendships will, to my mind, do more than anything else to stop the dehumanization of mankind proposed by several kinds of governments today. Living in friendship one is welcome but one carries others’ banners. One does not give up insight, or experience. When one finds that with all glamour and clamor, the Aurobindo movement is honey-combed with communists, one knows what to do. One can attack or keep silent. But one can hardly blame Nehru for “compromising” with Russia and praise the Aurobindo movement as spiritual when the Aurobindo movement is nothing but a blind over communist intrigue! Indeed the opposition to the Aurobindo movement is led by a Sufi who is a friend of Nehru, and the friends of Aurobindo can hardly be against communism.
I came to Cleveland to be welcomed by five Sufis. While I was there six other former members took the pledge of Bayat and two new mureeds. But I told them I was not the Teacher, and while the Movement seems to be in four groups—none of whom share the teachings and all who demand “authority.” I waived all objection to anybody they would accept esoterically. But my esoteric position is clear and cannot be touched, not in the least, by man, any man or men.
My scientific mission has, if anything, been more successful than the literary and spiritual one. If, in the course of time, I meet again with Dr. Shawarbi, we have great things to do, really great things to do. Little people would not let me; big people are very open hearted in this. I meet the world’s leading horticulturists all over, and am greeted by them at the top levels. But I keep my findings “esoteric,” sharing them with one man in San Francisco who has the know-how and who himself has been spurned so many times.
I can hint that if Russia would solve the fly problem, we would then spend millions to wipe out the flies as we wiped out the yellow fever pests. But Russia apparently hasn’t it. And I know we are miles ahead of them in soil science, plant nutrition, etc., etc. I won’t speak for nuclear physics, which is outside my realm. But I have catalogues from all over the country and know that within the U.S. the fly problem has been solved. I have already been a professional sprayer, too, but this is a minor point.
I cannot find out if it is expensive to live here because I have to go at the end of four days; as usual, praise be to Allah, I have had long series of successful interviews and conferences. Those who are willing to accept, let them accept. I have had against me a lot of Europeans known as “Orientalists” including some of Baba’s worst enemies, too. They are, on a whole, doing much harm in preventing straightforward American-Asian relations. You saw that with the Czech Prof. here, but that has been wide-spread. The new generation of American professors in the Oriental field are different and they are my friends; my address book is overloaded.
I say nothing more of the courses you have taken. What you do positively is your own affair. But what Allah does positively becomes the affair of His devotees. I was not stopped all over Asia; I don’t know whether I shall be or not, but no human being, acting in the name of Allah without having the Grace of Allah, will stop the Cause of Allah. All the people here are looking to my publishing memoirs. I think this will be done before long.
Then I expect to write, “I meet the Sufis.” Not now, but later. It is about time that the mystics begin to speak for mysticism,
Samuel L. Lewis
Ahmed Murad Chisti
c/o E.W. Hathaway,
350 E. 76th St.
New York 21, N.Y.
My dear Gale:
This is really my diary entry for May 7th and I am assuming you are now home. I guess when one becomes a wanderer one becomes a wandered. I received yesterday a very nice note from Swami Maharaj Ranganathananda who likes my poetry but cannot publish it; I am more concerned with his appreciation anyhow.
I spent some weeks lecturing and doing research in Cleveland Public Library anent ideas for reciprocal cultural exchange. The idea is not so difficult to put over as to find the machinery thereof. This was the only field in which I received much encouragement from the State Department. They gave me a list of organizations to contact but here too, I find lopsidedness and duplication.
I am active in “The Friends of the World,” a Japanese organization engaged in seed-and-tree exchange, linking cities and persons. It has been very successful; indeed to the degree that New York and Tokyo have become linked—as they should be; there is a strange type of synthetic Japanese landscaping in front of the public library (“natural,” stone and gravel gardens close to each other) and a special affair Sunday. Despite this we have several American organizations trying to duplicate and not getting anywhere.
In Cleveland I was rather successful in my lecture work and in Ohio State even more successful in my agricultural contacts (largely through Dr. Baker who was once on the staff.) This has already brought marked good-will. I have been offered land in both UAR and India, and had uniformly good interviews at the Embassies in Washington, followed by contacts with Consulates here.
Hathaway is an old California friend. We have lived in each other’s homes almost since we first met. He is a good friend of Judith too, and interested in languages.
Last night I ran into one of my pet peeves, the selection of non-American, non-Asian “authorities” for articles on Asian religions and philosophies. My friend and I went over the material and had plenty to criticize but fear the things will be published anyhow, on account of “brand names” and add to the misunderstandings, quite unnecessary, between the United States and Asia.
I called at the office of Congressman Inouye in Washington. He has a proposal for something like an American Academy, to be built in Honolulu. I got quite a laugh when I told his staff: “Hunt, yes! Moore, no!” They understood. I also made friends with Judge Sound to whom I may be writing from time to time.
I have purchased a cabin on a Khedivial Line ship (presumably sailing next month). There is a strike on and my travel agent will be here shortly to check on this, or predetermine my dates. Then I am going to Massachusetts, mainly to Harvard. There is always something to do here.
Sunday I may go to the University Church. Roland Gammon, one of their leaders, is now American representative of the World Congress of Faiths.
I have heard the Academy has to move. Whether it persists or is replaced, this country badly needs real teaching in real Oriental.
There is too little known of India here. I did attend a Seminar held by the World Affairs Council of Cleveland and met Mr. Adarkar who is with the World Bank, and called on him in Washington. Last week I met one Prof. Namiar of Bangalore who is quite critical of Nehru—too many speeches and not enough action seems to be the trouble in his land. People learn by example, not by listening.
All the Pakistanis and Indians are interested in improving food supplies. On the other hand reports from other lands show that those lands are actually increasing their crops. One does not hear of great speeches from Malaya but there is a growing prosperity. Maybe something is learned in this.
I am on the uncertainty of adventure and am taking chances. The main thing is to find a literary agent, a matter which has not been fully faced. News from San Francisco is little. Several people who wanted letters do not answer so I am compelled to write less to them. But I am keeping a pretty close record of events. One never knows.
Please remember me to your family and Edna. No doubt I shall have more interesting reports when I am abroad.
Samuel L. Lewis
May 31, 1960
My dear Dorothy:
I am just back from Gloucester and am in a sort of quandary, nothing bad, but much determinate. Visited Harvard and while I was there telephoned Adolph. To my surprise and delight he called on me the next day and took me to his home. It was one of those things—on the right side. I apologized and said I had brought them no present but had my work clothes with me. That was just what they wanted! Instead of being in the food business they run a greenhouse and nursery and I kept pretty busy around the place—from putting in a rock garden, to potting and now arranging their stock.
This is necessary because they are in between two rush seasons: a short one in which they are concerned with seedling plants, chiefly “Mums” and the regular summer season. They have a large place with extra cottages and have just purchased a home for their son, Bob. They expect to move in that place this winter, or sooner and use their present home for a rental cottage; or move into it during the summer and use the other place as a rental cottage this year, the latter.
I found the place entirely to my delight and the weather also. I met a lot of their friends and some of Eva’s relatives. I liked the relatives but it was not so easy with the Boston Jews who have a much more limited geography and so outlook. I did meet a beautiful nurse who is interested in India and did not get any plaudits from the men because I “stole” her right under their noses. I met some poets and they want to see my work.
Now the quandary is this: I have had no confirmation as to my sailing date and my travel agent, Rudolph Olsen, 166 Geary, owes me money too. This throws me in the lap of uncertainty. On the other hand I can leave here and go to work up there and stay as long as I want to. This means taking my typewriter, etc. up there with me. In any case there is no loss.
Had a series of interviews at Harvard, In the case of the Far Eastern section it was very good, but the professors in International Relations and the Near East were away. I may meet the professor who has been working on the Dead Sea scrolls because I have something for him. Such a meeting would be very valuable.
I learned from her cousin that Mabel has remarried and is living in Brookline. However, I have not tried to reach her. I talked to Joe Matz but had to phone that I would return and see him later. I also spoke to Pauline Bromberg and she was amazed that I remembered her, etc., etc. We both want to see each other, very, very much.
I long distanced S.F. but no answer and will have to air mail so I can get a clear picture of my future. One of my local sponsors has been trying to reach me, she says, so I long distance her, too, tonight. Life is complicated but not bad.
The folks send their love to your mother.
June 5, 1960
My dear Ruth:
This is largely a diary letter and is personal from this end. The second part is no doubt more spiritual. It is not a private letter and there are some items in it, or even all of it which can be shown to Norman McGhee Jr. in case he is available.
Initiation, Pir-O-Murshid calls, a step into the unknown. This is what one may expect in foreign lands and certainly happened to me time and again when I was in the Orient. But the events of the unexpected in places of assurety show how dependent we are upon a Providence and that that Providence is certainly wise, in the first place, if nothing more.
I left Cleveland at a certain date because my railroad ticket was soon to expire and it had been granted on condition I sail on a certain ship. That ship is yet to sail. My date of departure is uncertain. I do not even know whether I shall go on that line and if it should be I have to go on a tramp, and at a later time, at least I shall be better off financially and be assured of better food. But I was hoping to have some of the social life of a liner, etc. God knows best.
It was most important that I go into Massachusetts on three major errands. One of these, to contact Prof. Staley of Harvard who is opening up a new school to teach all religions, has not come off yet. A second, to meet Prof. Sorokin to whom I am dedicating my books did happen with not only expected pleasantries but surprises.
It was Sorokin who held that Love controlled the whole universe and my previous journey, and evidently the forthcoming one has evidence of it. But he is also a man of love with supreme intellect. Several people I met think he is crazy and to use the radio comment, “and thou likewise” only I don’t think Sorokin is crazy. He is not only a man full of love, but one full of information, of widest outlook, spiritual and has the finest Azalea garden I have ever seen, and believe me I have seen some Azaleas in life.
Adolph Matz is my cousin on my father’s side. I have the strangest sort of relatives around Boston. Independently of one another, we seem to have been attracted toward the Orient and spirituality. In politics, art, religion and all major subjects we think and emote similarly. But I had one of the greatest jokes in my life played on me.
He and his wife Eva did not inform me that they had long changed their profession to Flower Growing. And I, on my part, took my work clothes and apologized for not bringing a present. This was just what they wanted, and in answer to their prayers. So I spent some time working at my favorite profession; then, returning here and getting no satisfaction for my sailing, I am returning and will either remain in Massachusetts, or make several trips—again God knows best.
On top of that I have been introduced to a poet I like; and to a poetry editor who wants to see some of my things so I am taking my poems, and also my manuscripts with me. It will be much easier to work there than in New York. I could write much more on this subject but then the two incidents I wish to relate would be lost.
Most of the visitors of the Matz Estate are Jewish. The place is an Estate on account of its size and not-wealth. It is covered by cabins, rented in summer and auto-trailer camps. Visitors come in and out. I think innately these people are drawn to the kindness, hospitality and spirituality which is latent, though clear in the art of both Adolph (painting) and Eva (weaving). But most of the guests are not particularly interested in those things.
I think it was last Sunday a young couple came in and the lady was one of the most attractive blondes I have ever seen. If I related my recent experiences with blondes you will realize I tend to avoid them—the incidents are actually humorous, not negative. The men all joked about this woman, but I was busy working in the greenhouse.
After dinner we all congregated in the living room and recreation room. The blonde, whom I shall designate as M. sat in a corner and most of the men rather challenged me to see me discomforted, while one of them won her attraction. It was no contest at all, it was not a debate, it was not a surrender, it was a flight. All M. was interested in was Yoga, Mysticism and Nursing in India. She questioned me and cross-questioned me the whole evening.
The reason for her seriousness is evident. She had been in an auto accident and was paralyzed. This drew her to nursing more than ever. She has now recovered her faculties excepting senses of taste and smell—certainly her mind is very alive and she spends most of her time studying when not working. There was a young man with her, who was head-over-heels, but she hardly noticed him; he is a salesman type and really does not fit into her world. However as I had eliminated the other males and made no play for M. he was appreciative and that gave him also a clear field, on that score.
Before going to bed I said to my cousins that that was just the type of woman I would like my friend Norman to meet. I said that although he was a mulatto, he seemed to have an attraction (both ways) to and with intellectual blondes; but if he met one who was interested in Yoga and India, I think it would be a match. I said I was sorry race might stand in the way.
“Race stands in the way! Why her room-mate is a mulatto, and they are always together and sometimes we think she would prefer a mulatto to a white man.” So! Maybe I am in for it, and without contacting Norman, you can tell him I am following this case up if I meet the lady again.
You can see, Ruth, how close wit and wisdom, humor and spirituality are. But you know it.
Actually my room-mate here, who has had a little Sufi training, has loads of books on Anthropology around and the more one reads them the more one sees universality. And the same is beginning to be true in Social Psychology. All differences are near-nonsense, though they may be needed for certain reasons. The soul has nothing to do with externals and I bring this out in a few lines in my “The Rejected Avatar.” Krishna (which means the black one—and please don’t forget it) was rejected on account of his color. My plan, on returning, is to write topics for West Africa as I am now doing for the Near East and India. God has no “chosen” people, all peoples are His.
Incidentally I am bringing my Jewish epic with me to Massachusetts. That was rejected—as I knew it would be—by the Jewish people themselves, although it was and is highly prophetic. Please tell Dr. Gordon, it is based on Kabbalah. If and when I have time to copy it I will send it to her.
My conscious spiritual life has but one outstanding event and that is most important. The above came from the selfless or unconscious. I have been somewhat emotionally concerned about inability to establish a time program and this means more recourse to meditation. One morning, after such a session, I went suddenly to the Iraqi Consulate. Now I have had no intention of going into that country which is presumably on bad terms both with the UAR and us. But as Holy Murshid was guiding me there was nothing else to do.
The consulate is very close to those of UAR and Lebanon. My visit to the Lebanese Consulate was not satisfactory—that is in the division between Lebanon and Syria, places which I thought were in Lebanon are in Syria so there was no need to do any business there then.
To my amazement I received a wonderful welcome. I had asked for the Cultural Attaché. This was easy because the Visa Secretary was not in. I met the Visa Secretary later and he looked like a man who likes to say “no!” and he was not too happy that he could not say no to this hombre.
I had to fill out a form and I put down that the reason I wished to go to Bagdad was to visit holy places. He said: “Tomb of Abdul Kadir-i-Jilani.” I replied, “Absolutely.” “Why?” “I am a Dervish, one of the few American Dervishes, and my name is Ahmed Murad Chisti; also I was initiated into the Naqshibandi Order.” He was surprised and delighted and we had a wonderful conversation.
So I filled out the forms but on account of the international situation I shall have to go from Lebanon to Bagdad, not from Damascus, unless the international atmosphere is clarified. However there is no question about it.
I remembered later that Murshid Rabia Martin has also visited the tombs of Rabia and Abraham which are in the southern part of the country. I may (or may not) visit them from Bahrain. I have a friend in Bahrain of whom I have forgotten.
This incident also shows the Divine Wisdom and potential guidance of surrender.
Now I can get back to human things, with their mixture of drollery and wisdom. I went the other night to a meeting of the Society for Research and Enlightenment (founded by Edgar Cayce). The theme was “The Search for God.” The motto I learned from them was: “Prayer is man speaking to God; meditation is God speaking to man.” I think it is a very good motto. We had to tell our troubles and the subject was “cooperation.”
One young woman who had been spending her time arguing with an older man (I soon found out why), said she was at her wit’s end, that she and her husband had to go to California, to live in San Francisco, or preferably in Marin County and she described exactly what she wanted but added it was hopeless. I said: “Lady, you have no problem. I know that country like a book and can help you get exactly what you want.” She never spoke to me after that and told me I had no business butting into her affairs. So we learn about prayer, meditation and cooperation.
The chairman was also at his wit’s end. There is a governing board made up of the leaders of this movement (which preaches prayer and meditation). He said they were always fighting; in fact meetings were becoming impossible because nobody wanted to associate with the others any more. He did not know what to do. “Have you ever tried meditating? He also would not talk to me after that. Evidently some people just love to complain. (Maybe I do, too, but I’ll be honest about it.)
Now we return to the Wisdom of God, to Whom be all Praise. Other things being equal, I can come and live with my cousins at any time and work for and with them. It may mean cooperation on several levels. This involves crossing the country and this in turn means passing through Cleveland, which will be easy. I cannot say for assurety, but all signs point to a trip from San Francisco or Southern California and if I do not establish a home when I come to the West again, maybe crossing the country. This will be more necessary if I succeed in finding a suitable literary agent—which is still to be done.
Of course it is assumed here that I will be of organizational or other importance. Poor Ezra has lost contact with both God and man and his goodness and love are too restricted. I am aware that a visit or two that I shall be making in this City (New York) after my return from Massachusetts may result in the establishment of Sufism as an intellectual teaching. There is nothing standing in the way but my own inertia. This is something I have not wished to do, but if those who stem from Pir-o-Murshid do not deliver the Message and others keep on offering me platforms, I shall not keep quiet. I have already had approval in Washington and invitations here. So I may be on another tack before I leave.
I know I had the most wonderful time in Cleveland, but it is impossible to write to everybody. Neither do I wish to give out a lot of advice. I am succeeding, at long last, in giving my room-mate the picture of the “perfect man.” Each one of us is “the perfect man” but we do not know it. I use the chemical-geological analogy. A rock has gold, manganese, silicon, aluminum, oxygen in it. Each of these is perfect. But mixtures are not always perfect. This is one of the first teachings in Sufism. However, it is not to extract the gold and throw the rest away, it is to find the value and use of each of the other things. And from the atomic point of view, none of them ever departed from perfection. Only we do not realize this and spiritual training is to make us realize this.
Pir-o-Murshid said that Spirit-Of-Guidance was the same as Bodhisattva which means “Buddha in essence” and that is what we all are. Only we don’t know it. The forest is made up of many kinds of trees as well as shrubs, flowers, herbs and grass. We can see the perfection in each and also the variety. But we do not see the perfection in “the forest of humanity.” Nor is it easy. But it is so.
I am remaining in a kind of unknown, and strange to say, in my own country. I don’t know what wisdom is behind it and am troubled by impatience but by nothing else.
God bless you all.
June 8, 1960
My dear Charlie:
I have been considering writing you a letter and have decided to make this my diary report. I have not been making entries for some time. Most of my affairs will be of some interest to you and I am trusting you to share it with Seth on the one hand; and with Della and members of the Zendo on the other; and, of course, there is nothing private or strictly confidential.
Sailing. The date is very indefinite. I have overpaid my travel agent to assure the proper cabin. But on account of the strikes in New York everything is thrown off schedule. Man’s intuition or selfless consciousness is greater than his plans. I planned to make a visit to my cousins here and instead of taking them a present, I brought my work-clothes. To mutual surprise and delight I found they are professional flower-growers and they found I have varied skills which they need at this time. So I guess I am here indefinitely which means anything from one week on.
Japan. I am not surprised at the anti-American riots. It is easy. I once was with the secretary of a Prime Minister of Iran right after the anti-American riots and the way I described them he thought I was there. I know the exact modus operandi.
People are not pro communist. Often they are more anticommunist than we are. But we never admit that. In 1957 I predicted trouble in Iraq when UNESCO imported a non-American, non-Muslim to speak as the “expert” on that religion and professor Moore, in the chair, refused to let the Iraqi have the floor. He walked out and wrote a strong letter which was read and confined to the waste-basket.
My experience is still to have my proposals treated lightly “lest we offend the Asians” and every Asian I meet is in favor of them. On the impersonal side I want to see Asians and Americans direct all studies in our mutual relations. In the Far Eastern Section of Harvard, the director is an American, Prof. Reischauer, who is highly respected by the Orientals and who has a very clear picture of what Buddhism is, including Zen. His chief assistant is a Japanese, who is thoroughly skilled in all branches of Buddhist culture. We spent an hour with him and he showed us the huge library of Chinese and Japanese classics. This is what it should be.
The Near East Studies are directed by a Briton and a Hungarian. It is just like SEATO, designed to “defend” South East Asia, and ignored by Burma, Malay, Laos, Cambodia and Indonesia. We won’t let the Asians alone.
I have been cantankerous in my prophecies that continued lectures on schmutzik and calling it “Zen” would sooner or later cause anti-American feeling in Japan, or add to it. But we like the schmutzik-vendors, they are nice men, or occasionally not nice; they have PhDs. (often self-endowed) and they run around the country or speak at Dr. Chaudhuris and all the studies of Asian culture immediately forget there is a Law of Karma and the professors who lecture on karma all regard themselves as above it and so Karma strikes. And we shall have more schmutzik-vendors.
The “Zen” in Boston is a beatnik hideout and people don’t know the difference. But you can imagine what visiting Japanese think.
Matz. Alolph Matz is a cousin on my father’s side and he resembles me psychologically perhaps more than anybody else. Our views in politics, religion and metaphysics are very much alike. And when the present rush is over I am going to meet with several of his friends to discuss Zen, which will mean discussing meditation, and discussing Buddhism.
Adolph does a lot of painting and his work is in modern styles. He shows a Jungian outlook which is not surprising that for years he has studied dreams. But he has a metaphysical insight vaguely recalling Gordon Onslow-Ford. He has several styles, showing surrealistic, cubistic, impressionistic and more modern trends. His wife, Eva, can weave and although he praised her work highly, it was better even than I expected. From my point of view it is excellent.
Charles Gulson is, perhaps, the biggest man I have ever met. He looks roughly like Seth but is both taller and stouter, and is of Danish extraction, I am told. But I suspect his career is somewhat of the order of Henry Miller, though I do not know. Like Miller he is widely praised and blamed; said to have been the center of scandals and to be one of the most noble hearted men alive.
He does look for good poets so I have taken a lot of my stuff here—my Jewish and four Indian epics, my love epic (incomplete) and my North Beach poetry. I have met a friend of his named Ferrini who is a professional picture-framer and an amateur poet. I have seen his work. It slightly resembles what Webern is doing in music. The tendencies are to short lines and even to short dramas. But it is not surprising to find Ferrini is interested in Zen.
I have given my cousin the two books of Mrs. Sasaki and may read from the Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch. I may even leave it here if they want to practice meditation.
Gloucester is on Cape Ann and is in competition with Cape Cod. It is very beautiful. My cousins have a fairly large place, two houses, several cabins and large areas for trailers. Many trees of all kinds, their own flower gardens, a greenhouse, a cold frame and lining out gardens for Chrysanthemums and Vegetables. It has been warm, not hot, and not muggy, thank God.
The Brombergs. Senator Bromberg met Swami Vivekananda and later subsidized Swami Paramananda. I never met him though he came to California when the ashram at La Crescenta was dedicated. He married a cousin of my father but died shortly before I came this way in 1930. His wife was very kind to me and one son acted as Treasurer for the Vedanta Center in Boston until he died. I met my other cousins a couple of hours last week and we hope to meet each other again. I may include a history of the Boston Center for a book in prospectus, “Vedanta Today.”
Writing: I am going over my Zen book and my memories so am keeping very busy. But I have had no mail lately and evidently letters sent to New York are not forwarded quickly. We are miles out of town on a highway near the beaches.
Please remember me to Beatrice.
June 18, 1960
My dear John:
I am working now and because of that have failed to make diary entries. So I am going to pour off steam and let you have it.
I have, during the past weeks re-contacted old relatives and expect to meet others. This is in part for legal as well as social reasons. It gets me into contact with intellectual people and quite a few who are interested in gardening. On the whole you would find them congenial because of a number of mutual interests. In general they are quite opposed to experiments which involve fall-outs.
It is a curious thing that many intelligent people accept without question that “communists” are behind any staged protest. So they accept that those who paraded against the un-American Activities Committee were misled. But they themselves support or even participate in the protests against nuclear nonsense and would feel terrible if they were accused of participating in communist imbroglios.
In this neck of the woods—which it is—Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt is very important. Her own program—which was on the Cultural TV station—came to an end last week. This means that she only appears on the regular national broadcasts so one does not see her more than twice as much as one sees Eisenhower or Nixon or Kennedy! She is apparently in alliance with strong forces at Harvard. You could hardly accuse that institutional of being “radical” but the fact is that almost every protest against the present Administration has either strong support or its fountain-head on the Cambridge Campus.
Kennedy is far and away ahead here but there are sound objections against him. The chief one is his father and if Nixon is nominated you bet this will be well aired. Everybody “loves” Stevenson but few want him, and the opinion is that he wants to be Secretary of State and there is little objection to him in this capacity. None of the candidates on the Democratic, otherwise, is popular and Nixon is not popular, but he can be running against an unpopular Democrat. Rockefeller lost ground from his talks on the air; he had a 2½ hour interview and he accused Nixon of being too indefinite and Adlai of being too definite and ended by appearing as more indefinite than anybody and everybody. So a great idol has fallen. The opinion is that he does not know where he stands himself.
This is pushing everything into a big fight coming up between the real intellectuals, egg-heads or not, and all the super-dupers who use either double-talk or something more complex. Last night at one of my cousins I said, “Your chief commentators, whom “everybody” admires, go to University commencements and say that “youth must be served” and it is up to the young graduates to take their places in public affairs. After which they go and accuse Nixon and Kennedy of being too young and inexperienced.”
And then they say that the trouble with the government of India is that there is no new blood, all the leaders are superannuated.
I said that this showed American madness and it is in line with the events in Japan. General, I mean G. I mean god, Mcgodthur—not only interfered with State Shinto (which was an upstart religion anyhow), but with Buddhism and everything not purely “Christian.” This caused inestimable chagrin. You can add our movies, our cheap literature and anything you object to, baseball accepted—and you can see what Asians think of us and why.
My audience had just heard Prime Minister Menzies at Harvard commencement and was unanimous that we have nobody in public life to compare with him in breadth, in knowledge, in forensic ability or in diplomatic approach. But Menzies cannot be President of the United States. So we are agreed that the U.S. is due for a few more knocks unless me ally ourselves with our allies and stop trying to lead them—and everybody else.
Changing the subject. I wrote Scott Tiller a long letter on the fine rocks around here—mostly granites with at least one smooth surface—fine for walls, patios and borders, to say no more. Too bad they can’t be shipped west.
Yesterday I also made my first visit to Arnold Arboretum and the Art Show on the Commons. The Art Show was by far the best I have ever seen, and as many as half a dozen impressed me as becoming potentially world-famous. I am not worried about the future of America in the Arts; I am in politics, in the Olympic Games and a few other things.
The Arboretum was not investigated by McCarthy and evidently Nixon hasn’t visited it. They exchange seeds and cuttings with even Poland, Russia and Czechoslovakia. Even China is not ruled out entirely. Their present concentration is on Pine cuttings in various media. They use a whole two year period. The cuttings are stratified and placed under refrigeration, and now they are out on the warm benches and will be kept so until late in the fall, then back to the ice-box and then next year ready for the bench. Thus they undergo near “natural” conditions.
They only work with woody plants, excepting incidentally. The floor is kept clear of all dead branches. In this way they have been able to eradicate the beetle which is the vector of Dutch Elm disease. They have, of course, a complete spray program. I hope to visit the place again and stay longer. It looks superficially like the Imperial Botanical Gardens.
My cousin Adolph paints and his wife Eva does rug weaving, which is excellent. I expect to meet one Charles Olson who is a poetry editor; he is the largest man I have ever met: a giant with considerable girth, something like Eric Nord in the build but even bigger!
Incidentally my young cousin Amy is coming to San Francisco soon. Horrors of Boston ancestry! She is interested in Zen, Henry Miller, Japanese meals and universal sociology! What is the younger generation coming to; thank God—also praise Allah!
Editorial: This issue comes largely through the kind cooperation of my friend, Mr. Pundit, with his series of “The Pundit Spunned It.” Please read with patience.
The Pundit at Harvard: My young friends, it is time for you to become aware of the world and not only aware of the world but to take your part in it. You have ideas, ideals, idols and idylls, use them all. We older folks need you. We are caught in a rut. Especially in politics we need young blood, young inspiration, new outlooks. We older folks have messed it at summit meetings, at underground meetings, at all meetings. Youth must be served; we look to you. God bless you.
The Pundit on TV: I cannot express my opinions on the various candidates for presidency. They lack, as a whole, maturity. They have not had enough experience. They lack qualifications. They have not seen enough turmoil, suffering. Most of them have lived such easy lives, how can they lead. Where does wisdom come from? How does one obtain it? One cannot find the answer in the leading candidates for your presidency.
The Pundit on India: I know all about my own country. We have superannuated leaders. They are old men. They are caught in a mess and can’t get out. They don’t trust anybody under 60. Who is going to take their place? More old men? One fears for the future of India.
Puck on the Pundit: You know that song, “They’re either too old or too young.” Boy, we have it.
Haggard Haggerty; Puck doesn’t know anything about diplomacy. On landing in Japan he sent the Emperor a present. He also saw that the City of Tokyo got a present. Next thing, he was riding around in a Cadillac and treated with honors. He had not been briefed, and he never is brief anyhow. But somehow or other he got in. The “Intelligence” officials don’t believe. Puck is always writing that U.S. libraries are going to be mobbed or burned; he is spurned and they are burned, and even Eisenhower was not informed that the Mikado would rather trim shrubs than play golf.
Kennedy-Date: The Pope is going to conquer the United States. He makes Superman seem small. All the back Bay Irish are again’ Kennedy. They don’t like Papa; Papa does not like them. Puck is always afraid to call on His Holiness in Rome lest His Holiness be away at some meeting where he is being criticized and agreeing with his critics.
America wants good neighbor policy and freedom and democracy and no Catholic for high office. This makes friends but Puck is unable to find out with whom. Would somebody inform him, please?
Puck in Boston: denounced Nixon and said if he would have called on Archbishops he would not have been mobbed. The audience consisted mostly of Jews and they were unanimous that one should defer to Cardinals and Archbishops. Indeed Cardinal Cushing is always busy. Everybody knows that but U.S. Intelligence. The Jews are amenable to Cardinals, and so is Puck. Now, will the Catholics be?
June 23, 1960
My dear John:
It probably takes at least six days for mail to reach Gloucester—sometimes two days from Boston, because few trains carry mail or baggage. I have not heard from either the bank or my travel agent recently. I have overpaid my travel agent over a hundred dollars and he is over a month remiss in sending this back (over and above my passage to Beirut and/or Alexandria. I cannot understand this. He is a close friend of years’ standing.
Originally I gave him this money to purchase a ticket to Boston and to pay for hotels, which he did not—it was not an intentional overpayment.
Yesterday I visited Eliot Miller and his wife Shirley and son Henry (Hank) at 158 Thorndyke, Cambridge. I gave him your name and address. He is the grandson of a sister of my Grandfather Lewis, and son of Amelia Meyers Miller, mentioned in the will of Leo Davis. Actually our relationship is not too clear, for there were intermarriages, cross-marriages and re-marriages.
The voiding of recent wills and the use of terms “heirs or assigns” might change things. Or, he says, if his mother were alive at the time the will and testament was drawn up (going backwards) which is declared by the Court to be valid. If there is sufficient money he will be interested.
I did learn from him that Mrs. Annette Waterman was alive until recently. She was both the favorite and richest cousin of my father. I visited them in 1931 and both she and her husband, Abe, took umbrage at the way my father was treating me. Abe Waterman had been Vice-President of W. Strauss & Co., a successful brokerage firm. Before the depression he was a millionaire and later the family fortune was recovered. I tried to look up their son in New York and failed. But he, if alive, may have rejoined his mother in Bangor, Maine.
It is probable that I shall visit Bangor if I am not to leave the country until June. One of Mrs. Waterman’s brothers was the perennial Mayor of Bangor and another one visited Japan. She wanted me to contact them but with the family quarrels I was afraid to—then. If there are any Watermans or Kersteins in Bangor I may get a good “in.” Besides, now that you have the article from Japan, I may be able to hook Bangor up with the cities, which is part of my world tour.
At the moment I am waiting on the one hand for a financial report as above; and for confirmation from my cousins on the other. If they need my room over July 4 I may go to New York then as my purpose is chiefly to see friends and get more clothing. Then I’ll buy a New York-Bangor ticket with stopover at Boston, etc.
I think I have found a friend in each one of the family and each for different reasons. In general I have found the Harvard people psychological akin because they lean toward facts and more facts and not empty opinions or commendation. There is lots more in it than this.
I also have some wealthy or formally wealthy relatives around Boston whom I have not contacted.
I have still to visit the Arnold Arboretum in detail and go to the big Museum. The outdoor art show was by far the best I have seen. There is a vitality in many of the artists and in quite a few of the sculptors. I understand the same is true of kindred spirits—poets, dramatists, actors, but somehow or others busy schedules have inhibited this portion of my social life.
I am back on part-time employment here so that I am not incurring expected heavy expenses by staying around these parts. In fact I may even come out ahead.
It is the end of the Chrysanthemum planting season so we are going to lay out all the remainder in the field and grow them for cut flowers from this time on. There is some caretaking work here too. The weather is really fine (“What is so rare as a day in June!”). And I am enjoying both the scenery and people.
Samuel L. Lewis
June 29, 1960
I have just received your letter of the 18th which I am answering at once because of its timely factors, though I do not know when it will be mailed. I am staying with a cousin 9 miles from the fishing village of Gloucester, Massachusetts. I am helping him as he is a professional flower grower and I have some time before I leave the country.
He and several of his friends are interested in Zen. In general my younger generation relatives and co-relatives are also. But they are confused and especially by Alan Watts. Somewhere along the line I shall send you addresses and money (this is difficult here because so far from banks and post-offices).
I do not know that there is any course open but to join full forces with you. I visited Mrs. Farkas one night for this purpose but did not tell her. She remained over half an hour on the phone so I left. It is one thing to talk Zen or even practice meditation; it is another to understand oneness. It is oneness rather than meditation which was the supreme teaching of Roshis to me. And the same lesson came from Sufism, “You are not different and I am not different.”
Suzuki says that Zen is really Prajna, not meditation, but what is Prajna? Both on the Pacific and Atlantic Coast there are scores of young Americans repeating Prajna-Paramita Hridaya in Japanese and hardly anyone know what it is about. Senzaki’s great teaching to me was Hridaya, but what is that? One repeats the story of the Roshi rubbing two bricks together. “I am making a mirror.” “How can you make a mirror by rubbing bricks together?” “Much easier than becoming a Buddha by meditation.” They learn the story, they overlook the wisdom.
On account of the International Situation I have written one version of “Through the Gateless Gate” covering some episodes of my Japanese trip. I am going to try at least two more versions to see which sounds the best. But I must tell you in confidence that I was more impressed by Kegon than by any other sect. For Kegon is integrative and unifying.
Today this country is filled with psychological problems. Perhaps the whole world is. Only the Buddha faced the subject of the cause of suffering and followed through to the last detail. We want to be “nice.” The Southern Buddhists confuse the finite and infinite; as soon as one had a single meditation on any phase of infinity, if not before, he must experience transformation—whether he is aware of nirmanakaya or not.
Of course esoteric Buddhism is vital in Japan. There are far more visitors to Koyasan than to the Zen places. Buddha did not abolish the Hindu dharma; he sought to rectify it. In Kegon and Shingon there are numerous Indian elements and there is respect for India which the Theravadins do not always have. Furthermore, how can we omit Milarepa?
As to Japanese methods, I saw more Zen in Shin-shu than in some people who think they have some sort of Zen. Thus Flower Arrangement, Tea Ceremony, Noh dramas, to say nothing more—and there is much more.
In my Karuna Yoga Gita I have already put your theme into poetry, utilizing the character of Sri Ramakrishna and it begins with a colloquy between Sri Ramakrishna and Maitreya. I do not know whether I have any extra copies and I see little time for typing it over until I shall be on the high seas.
I do not know when I am leaving though I long ago paid, and overpaid for my passage. I may visit Bangor, Maine, where they are distant relatives and some interest in Japan. I can’t tell at the moment.
As Soto was explained to me, the essential difference between this sect and Rinzai, and in another sense from other sects, is that they claim to have a Buddha-, Dharma- and Sangha-transmission. As Rinzai and pseudo-Zen is taught in the United States there is no Sangha and very little Dharma. Theravada hangs on to a Dharma or dhamma which is very incomplete. I can prove that in many ways but do not wish to.
Kegon also claims the transmissions but put emphasis on Dharma and Buddha himself put emphasis on “Dharma.” “When I go I leave you the Dharma.” I should say that this is the essential point of your letter and I don’t think it can be overemphasized.
But we have intellectual dharma; then vjjnana-dharma, then prajna-dharma, which is the full thing. Only prajna is not only transcendentalist, it is realist. It is here, it is now, it is in all things.
I shall try soon to send you another article on “The Gateless Gate and Friendship with Japan” or on the need to derive psychological wisdom from Buddhist writings. At the moment I am out of touch with Pali books, but consider the scriptures as a unit from Dhammapada to Wei Lang.
No doubt, now that they have discovered the world and the world has discovered them, there may be a Theravadin awakening. I found little knowledge at the Ceylon Embassy and Consulates—much more with the Burmese, but it is the Singhalese who are publishing (we hope) the Encyclopedia.
I have an idea: “The Derivative and the Integral—Newton and
Samuel L. Lewis
Dear folks: ` July 9, 1960
This is really a diary entry written in New York. I came down on personal business and had the very unifying experience of finding my sailing date cancelled for the third time. I do not know whether there is any Saturnine influence in my horoscope—have not heard of it—but it may be that Providence just does not want me to sail on the line intended. So I telephoned Rudolph Olsen in San Francisco and it seems he had not been notified, had a receipt for my passage and could not understand it. As soon as I completed my business I got ready to go to Boston again, when something intervened which my friend and room-mate Bill Hathaway rather intuited. As it is pleasant and important I write about it below; indeed that is the reason for my diary-entry.
The first thing I did when coming here was to go down to Seventh St. to call on the Stices. They were not in at the moment owing to Bob’s mother being around but when I got back I found a note saying they wanted to see me. We did go to dinner and then down to the Village and had quite a nice evening. They are both more spiritually minded than I expected but I under-played my cards there and with the next folks. We parted around 10 and they suggested I call on Dorothy and Rick which I did.
Whereas Adeline and Bob look wonderful, Rick and Dorothy look bad. They are both so physically weak that they are unable to work. I almost feel something like leukemia. At the same time they are caught in certain almost superstitions. These folks, like the Stices, believe in Organic Gardening, are against sprays, artificial everything, etc. But they are not eating meat and I am wondering if they carry their ideas to a phobia. For the Stices look handsome and wonderful, talk extremely sane and you would never believe they had been under therapy. The Blackhursts are very different, as if a rug had been pulled under them and you can’t do much. I did succeed in offering them certain exercises. I could not go further without inducting them into Sufism which I did not feel could or should be done now. I am offering no propaganda. I did mention the various Yoga schools and the Zendo. The difference is that the Sufis have more breathing and disciplinary exercises without involving contortions.
I have been preparing my trip with few affiliations. The chief of these is “The Friends of the World.” Their leader in this country is one William Hughes Jr. of this City who is on the diplomatic corps of the U.N. He is a man I can look up to morally, and I have seen no reason not to give him full cooperation and service. By his efforts he has had me contact one Mrs. Sparkman who is the top organizer in some of the schemes with which I have been working.
I had just changed my plans to take a later bus to Boston this morning when Mrs. Sparkman rang—long distance—asking if I could meet her at Columbia University at noon. Mrs. Sparkman is working for a degree in philosophy, studying Dewey under Professor Blau there. The first thing she put up was the Deweyian thesis that a man is what he does, not what he is. As it is so obvious that I am a doer a whole lot of pleasant things followed.
Now I have run the gaff of a lot of criticisms and some of them are at least partially true. Analyzed I do not stand up too well, with a loud ego and questionable mannerisms. But the strange thing is that the criticisms are put at me on the ground that they are out of place in diplomacy. There is no question that they are out of place in something called “diplomacy” which is actually confined to the mere externals of international social decorum. I do not know of a single accomplishment and I have not found out a single accomplishment in international matters which has resulted from a change of ego and external appearance toward this theoretic conformity. This does not mean that I must not make some alterations in my approaches towards Americans and Europeans, but I am disgusted with the constant reminders by Occidentals that Orientals will not like certain behaviorisms when it is the Occidentals that are constantly failing.
Last night I read a newspaper man’s account of Burma which is palpably untrue. He followed the usual and reports that tourists are not particularly welcome in Burma. This is nothing but the guff, and I can almost call it smut-nonsense that leads to the burning of UNIS libraries and anti-American riots. Communism has nothing to do with it.
Khrushchev got a welcome in Burma because he put on a long (traditional Burmese clothing). This is something we simply can’t do. I wore kimonos occasionally in Japan, and long occasionally in India and Pakistan and they beat “striped trousers” and all the nice nonsense a thousand-fold. We shall have to see a few more American press agents mobbed before we correct ourselves.
The next thing I showed in Burma was that I was quite acquainted with the history of Lord Buddha. We teach this very superficially in our courses on something called “Buddhism” offered by intellectuals who have the proper degrees. We do not permit such men to teach Christianity or Judaism in the schools without valid training. When a Burmese finds you know something of historical Buddhism you are most welcome—nothing to it.
Well, Mrs. Sparkman with her Dewey approach that a man is what he does, fell in with me—and I with her. Our differences were on our organizational activities. She wants to be part of a clearing-house; I want a clearing-house to report to. She wants certain types of accomplishments by Americans; I want to do those very things. We are both close to Chester Bowles in our ideas as to how to deal with Russians. Bowles succeeded but the State Department, both at UNESCO and in Washington has avoided the Bowlesian philosophy. Thus the doors are closed to the American executives, and open for Russians.
We spent some time going over my projects, all of which she warmly approved, and not once did I have to present my deeper credentials. The actions were important. On my dearest project she reacted warmly. It is a plan which has been accepted by every Asian I have met of every country, but usually falls flat with Americans: They want foreigners to be either like them, or their conceptions; if they are not, something is wrong with the foreigner, but I never met many people who behaved like the conceptions of somebody else. We not only went over my projects one by one, but we must meet again with Mr. Hughes and perhaps with more important people before I leave.
At her suggestion I called on Prof. Blau of the Philosophy Department. Here I “cheated” slightly by presenting myself as a pupil of Cassius Keyser. I have been too successful in putting this point over in California; Keyser was, to me, one of the greatest minds of all times. I have been asked to write a paper on “Newton and Buddha” embodying integral methods of East and West. I talked to Blau about the integral approach waiting East and West and he accepted it fully. He was very glad to know that I like Charles Fabres who is the specialty at this time of the Philosophy Department at Columbia along with Dewey. But I must interject here that being Pragmatists they are interested in what you do much more than what you are. We agreed that the old analytical methods had been run to earth, and were useless in real communications with exotic people. You have to be able to appreciate a totally difference psychology.
Prof. Blau has been slightly successful in getting himself accepted in India and we agreed that I may mention his name and methods before the Philosophy Departments of the Universities which have extended invasions. He is moving to California next year and has invited me to visit him at Claremont. I have not been successful with this Institution, but I think the weight I may bring back will compel notice. You just do not make friends with Asians by accepting their intellectual sides. I did not tell Prof. Blau that although many Asians, and particularly Indians, have appeared as exchange Professors, they do not return with the enthusiasm we always expect of them. There has been too much of our traditional, analytical protocol. I think this is disappearing, though slowly.
He also asked me to contact the University of Minnesota which I already esteem, and Yale, which I do not esteem and will not at this time. (Not with Northrup).
These interviews were enough for one day.
July 30, 1960
I am in another of my fools-for-luck series. Come down to Cambridge to call at Harvard and look up a family connection. I found the party living very close by the campus. This has saved wear and tear. That made it possible to go to the Arboretum Friday Afternoon instead of Saturday. And it was well that I did. In the first place they changed their house an July 1 and in the second place it is now raining. I have been caught and good-but at least there are taxi-cabs all over, and in the Arboretum. Well, you may know the feeling of walking in the forest alone or going into a cemetery alone. But to walk through a huge park, everything clean and meet hardly any persons or hear any birds is a curious experience.
I left your inquiry at the office. The secretary told me that there would be no charge and indeed they are organized to render such a service.
So I popped ever to the Viburnum section, but off the beaten path. They do not have many regular walks but here and there are paths, evidently for the gardeners and caretakers. Still the labels are on the trees. I did not try to follow the calendar program but sought out the Viburnum section. I should say it takes about four visits to get a good picture of the place.
I do not find my tree notes. The back of the section has some very tall and stately Oaks, with Hickories in between and here and there an Ash. Some of the Oaks on the place are in excellent condition and could be photographed as fine specimens.
Outside of wild flowers there was not too much below and I did not go to the Tamarisks or Silk Trees which are supposed to be in bloom or near the section where the Rosacea shrubs are, However, the “empty” spaces are filled with Crabs and Hawthorns, almost every variety.
I concentrated on the Viburnum and am glad I did. The Azaleas and Rhodies did not impress me at all. There was one Sorbus aria salifolia which is an open small tree and in fine shape. Near it was a hybrid Sorbaronia alpina superoria, which was good for a small tree. Generally, however, the adaptation from Alpine regions did not always do too well. Climate is not enough.
(Incidentally I have read a book on Portugal in which it states that the grapes for Port White must be grown on Schists and if grown on Granites come out very badly.)
Before I come to the Viburnum section I saw an Elaeagnus multiflora, which seemed to belie its name. Near it was Symplocos paniculata, a large shrub or small tree called “Asiatic Sweet Leaf.” I tasted the Leaves but got no effect. And incidentally very much of the plants all over the place seem to have come from Asia.
The first Viburnum I saw was V. plicatum rosea and it impressed me so much that I felt you should see you get it. It had masses of wonderful red fruit, and is about 10” high. (Incidentally the color schemes of the whole section were very harmonious and generally there was a definite pattern of green-yellow, cardinal red—and then dark berries.
Next to it was V. scarbellum, an open shrub, not in good condition because of pests. I did not see many pests and no diseases. This was the worst in this respect.
Then V. opulus, Northcutt. This was changing color but was an excellent specimen with fine foliage.
V. setigerum auromatica, would make a good hedge. About 10’ tell with a mass of thin bamboo-like stems.
V. lantana was about 5’ and a hedge variety. Next to it V. lobophyllum which had more stems. And more copse-like.
V. rhytidophylloides, a hybrid, large copse shrub. This has leaves of a good texture and rather impressed me as a good garden shrub.
V. lentago, has, as its name indicates, round fruits. It is a very large shrub, with many branches and small fruit. They were in a green state which indicated that they probably bloom and fruit latest then most other varieties.
V. prunifolium is well named, and is called “Blackhaw Viburnum,” grows to about 12’ and can be trimmed to a hedge or wounder.
V. rafinesquianum affini, 10-12’, very rounded full shrub. Saw two specimens, imposing but saw not fruit on them. (In going around one cannot determine which varieties are sterile and which are still too young to fruit. A snap conclusion could be that the large ones are sterile and the small may be too young)
V. molle lerophyllum, has teethed leaves, very round shrub, up to 10’, from Kentucky. V. hirtulum also to 10’ but speeds with more.
V. rufidulum is quite large, up to 20’ and spreading. It looks like a fruit free. At this time the drupes were green.
V. plicatum, Japanese Snowball V., low spreading, with very rough and saw-toothed leaves. A specimen not an ornamental.
V. sieboldii, The one they have is an excellent specimen, very tall and in excellent health but not many berries. (Maybe it is “for the birds.”)
V. erubescens, small, spreading and I do not know where it got this name. Did not impress, Then another V. lantana, about 6’ compact, and in excellent shape, with berries in all four colors at this time.
V. pubescens,very spreading, growing to 12” and thick foliage, compact.
V. dentatum pubescens, variety of Arrow-wood V., 10’, spreading, not compact, with highly toothed leaves.
V. lantana rugosa, This variety much more impressive than V. lantana. Excellent leaf formation, foliage, and habit. Recommend for small shrub up to 6’.
V. lobophyllum, 10-12’, unequal growth, straggly, Not recommended.
V. erubescens, a second one, also small and in poor health. It comes from the Himalayas, and evidently belongs to high levels only.
V. opulus rosea, 5’, poor specimen, Open, V. bitchiuense, 8’ very open and no fruit.
V. lobophyllym, this was a small spreading, low shrub, not in good shape at all, but it had dark leaves and might be a good tree to grow for seeds and hybridation experiments.
V. hirtulum, to 10’ full, spreading with heavy leaves.
V. cassinoides, “White” variety with lighter colored, smooth leaves. 10’ and very spreading. Would need lots of room.
V. plicatum mariense, 6-8’, spreading, with large round leaves, Has beautiful red berries which were beginning to turn black.
I think that about covers what I saw. Possibly small errors in typing or taking notes. The area is laid out for study, not for landscaping. But here and there I did see them make use of the rock formalities about with I have written.
After that study I just walked, relaxed. But I did see a ground cover, Teucrium chamaedrys prostrata or Dwarf Chamaedys. It has continual flowers, with small pink blossoms and might be investigated. There were some good Vincas but I did not take notes.
Well, Harry, that about covers it, I am to sail on August 12th now, barring no further inhabitations. I learned a good deal about the Chrysanthemum Program. Last work was to pot all the cuttings and to the cuttings from rare varieties. You have a job-to see that the public gets the types it wants. To see that there are contrasts—and at the other extreme, to see you do not run out of rare plants. Did not have time to run around the State looking at nurseries. My relatives too busy and they also needed me on the grounds. Ten green thumbs and nary a muscle in the cranium!. But I liked it.
I see the possibility of more complete books both on Mums and Rhodies as a result of travels but not now. Flowers in this region all have strong colors, no pastels. Some weeds and wild flowers the same here. The stores are advertising controls for witch Grass, but darn it, what native grasses do they have? It is raining so I am in typing. Next letter, don’t know where or how.
I have found additional notes
Hamamelis vernalis was growing around the administration building. It was wide-spreading, covering a large area. It had large leaves but they we attacked by bugs and I found pests on them.
M. soulangeana, v. Bromini. I have never seen such strong types. They were 20’ tall, but differed from trees in that there was no trunk or leader. The very heavy boughs separated down near the base. Sometimes these boughs are so heavy that they have to be pruned—this was done apparently just a few days before I left and properly painted. The cuts showed very large boughs, I should say over a foot across. At this season they function like shade trees.
Back to Viburnums
V. erosum was about 6’ compact, but no berries. V. dilatatum, the linden Viburnum, only about 3’ and not healthy. And just V. [?] Variety, called Fragrant Viburnum, had no barriers and the leaves were already turning to fall coloration. I think the plant is sick.
V. judd or Judd’s Hybrid, small, compact, 3’, no berries.
V. dilatum was a compact shrub with rough leaves and heavy fruit, but the colors were not so bright as on a number of others.
V. macrocephalum, good, 3’, open.
V. opulus variegata. This was a most interesting type for two reasons:
a. The leaves were a mottled light greenish, rather than green color as if they were threatening to turn white or yellow or even reddish. So the shrub was decidedly a contrast type.
b. The leaves were shaped rather like a trident maple. But reminded one a little of sassafras, in that they often varied greatly in shape, but still tended to look like an Acer—however they are alternation.
I think you should try to have this also and one wonders whether it might not be used to produce interesting hybrids.
At the moment I am not in any mood to “argue” over other subjects. It was droll to find myself living on Cape Ann where the people are either Roman Catholic (Irish, French Canadians, Italians) or else “modernists”—and Cabet lodge is their neighbor—while the rival Cape Cod has nothing but blue-bleeds and blue-noses and Kennedy lives there! My visits to Harvard brought about two new important commissions, which is about as much as I can carry. My personal reasons for coming to Cambridge brought a strange immediate response—the party I have been seeking for years, has an office only a few blocks from the inn where I am stopping!
July 31, 1960
My dear Charles:
My greatest difficulty has been to get suitable time to write these and not just notes like those of a diary. I left Gloucester to come to Cambridge mostly to visit Harvard. But I also had, let us say, social obligations, chiefly centered in a search for a woman. I had met this woman but once in life but her life “socially” ran in the same group and with the same individuals. Ant I found her, of all things, a few blocks away from Brattle Inn where I am saying. So whether it is guidance or intuition, we often accomplish things “in the dark” which may really be “in the light.”
It was the same with other things. I originally intended to visit Arnold Arboretum this morning. But a “hunch” made me go to it yesterday and found that they had changed their hours recently. My business was accomplished and just as I returned home and was speaking to the inn-keeper the phone rang—it was a call for me to visit the Swami and as my “Saturday” morning business was through the time-schedule has worked out perfectly. For the rest of my hours are filled with dates.
I think I wrote you that the Ramakrishna Mission was finished in Boston by a man who married a cousin of my father. His son continued as treasurer but is dead. The brother is out of town and the sister, who has been most hospitable, had to go away. I have in the back of my mind a book “Vedanta today.” It was interesting to me that the secretary there has reached some of the same views I have but I wish to be as objective as possible and not resign myself to views.
My Harvard business was completed as the Professors, who want to see me, are traveling and I am traveling. Professors have beautiful secretaries with brains. This is a compromise to Washington where embassies have beautiful secretaries and the serious departments have them with brains. On the campus they are combined.
Prof. Reischauer is in Japan again. Prof. Slater, who is important to me, is in Canada. He is starting a School for Religious Studies which will be the real thing. Both students and teachers will be selected. As far as the Far East is concerned, Reischauer has a Japanese and Chinese assistant and the Japanese is also an expert on “Indian Buddhism.” The idea will be to import of have validated all persons who will be speaking. There will be none of that hog-wash nice personality stuff with has characterized the West Coast and misled so many of our people.
There is some interest in Zen around Gloucester, but there is terrible hostility to Alan Watts. He is blamed for Kerouac, Ferlinghetti and Snyder. In the first place Gloucester is full of poets and painters who are not always on good terms with others of their craft. Vincent Ferrini is one of the closest friends of my cousin Adolph and was the first man I met through him, I think we understand each other thoroughly.
He thinks Kerouac has done incalculable harm and also thinks that Snyder’s apparent use of Orient and transcendental terms is utter nonsense and leads to nothing but confusion. This view was shared by others that I met.
The possibility for establishing a Zendo depends on we season. In the summer the persons involved are ever-busy and in the winter they are under-busy. So the winter is devoted to creative work. I did find a great deal of undercurrent “absolute” honesty, nothing like that which is preached, but very, very real.
I also met one Harry Shore who has the same eye-formation as my friend Elsa Gidlaw, and many of the same outlooks in life. Mary has a wealthy husband and we were half-serious, half-joking about her touring Asia with me.
Be General my stories evoked hostility among the adults and attraction among the young. The unusual perhaps is a cause of jealousy or else it brings out the ego. But the majority of people I met were outdoor types, or else the youth hostel groups and there was over-congenialness. Among these was one Donna Oehm from San Francisco. I mention her name. She has been in the Orient several times and between this and our native habitat we understood each other all through. She has been in the travel bureau business. She wants people to visit “real places” and not just tourist attractions. So she outlined something for my future.
The above, combined with the political conventions, makes me feel that we need more and more honest channels of communication. I had to write a lot more in my memoirs and will complete my “Incense for Roshis” in New York before I leave. Then I have in the back of my mind “Vedanta for today.”
Everywhere we utilize the word instead of the process. This has led to a distinction between the “scientific” and literary” outlooks. But I am going to preach it as the difference between the “non-dualistic and “dualistic” approaches. Even people who like to think of themselves as non-dualists make grave distinctions between personalities. Instead of self-development, we have “politic choices” in metaphysical and spiritual matters. But again, instead of being angry, this is opportunity.
Health is excellent because of outdoor work. Do not know whether I shall write again before leaving. This probably on August 12th. My address until that time will be:
c/o E.W. Hathaway
350 E. 76th St.
New York 21, N.Y.
After that c/o U.S. Embassy, Cairo, unless I write otherwise.
Am making a copy of this for Della.
Tell Seth that Gloucester has many aspects like an extended Sausalito. More fishing, but the whole wharves, abandoned waterfront line, artists and “arty” things all over the place. Chief difference is that the barbers thrive, lots of them and only saw one or two “beatnik-looking people.”
August 7, 1960
My dear Vocha:
This will probably be my last letter before sailing; I do get additional mail I may not answer except in emergency, until I am on board. There are still nine days before I leave and the one big problem of marketing my manuscripts. I have been given contradictory suggestions, but fortunately do not depend on sales.
My writing has stressed more and more the battle between the “scientific” and “literary” cultures, or the professors against the fourth estate. I am quite determined and lopsided here. There has been the intense satisfaction of finding that the Ford Foundations selected as the three tops just the three universities with which I have projects, viz, California, Columbia and Harvard. The other university, Ohio State, I shall consider separately. The battles of the past are essentially over and the recent events here in new York have brought intense personal satisfaction. Many of my plans have been substantially altered, but we won’t go into that.
Prof. Blau, of Columbia, has written on the history of American philosophy. He acts as if a person is what he does and pays no attention to the valid or invalid “credentials” which mark certain circles. He is coming to Claremont and I hope you can visit him some day. While I used Cassius Keyser to begin with we discussed Royce, James, Peirce, Reiser, the New England tradition and he gave me further contacts or suggestions.
My other ventures into Columbia received corroboration for the things that are connected with Ohio state. I skip all of them but the immediate. Plans to bring Tomatoes into new lands received some good jolts. I had to do a lot of work with those plants in Massachusetts. The other day I went to the New York Horticultural Society to look up perennial Tomatoes. Nothing has been done of late—at least the last 20 years. Then the next day a magazine came out “solving” this problem and I leave fully encouraged.
As usual the interviews with scientists have been in every case most cordial and the gap between the scientists and those who speak in their name remains. I am not going into this further as I have two Harvard projects, one scientific and the other in the field of comparative religion.
There has been tremendous stimulation here, The Harvard outlook is now only for actual representatives of actual religions to lecture thereon. There will be no more European and other “interpreters” getting in the way between direct communication between actual or approved representatives, and the students themselves. There will be no “authorities.” The bishop represents his church. The Tillichs are over in philosophy and will stay there.
There was some interest in Zen in Massachusetts, especially with my cousin Adolph and his closest friends. These despite Ferlinghetti, Snyder, Kerouac in the extreme and blame Alan Watts for it whether he is to be blamed or not. I am trying to get them in touch with actual Zen representatives. My god daughter Dorothy, and her husband David, have visited the Zendo here and David definitely wants to join. In my manuscript, now completed, I repeat the praise of Sokei-an and contentedly set up meditation practice against any and all literature and explanation including my own.
I am living with my friend Bill Hathaway. Our relation has long been as if we were brothers in some former lives with me the elder brother. There are no signs that this was not so. I have never met anybody with whom I have so willingly shared. I night “like” a thousand people better, but we seem to be part of each other rather than friends. His parents long accepted this if they did not suggest it originally.
When I was here early in 1957 Bill presented ETC. to me and “Linguistics” edited by Prof. Austerlitz of Columbia. I felt then that Austerlitz supplied the missing link of my criticism of Hayakawa and even more of Rappaport. I kept on reading Austerlitz’ works and felt a strange rapport. Last night I was invited to a party where he was the guest of honor.
The biggest block between Bill and me has been what I call ”the gripes of wrath”—that I have certain gripes and even get angry about them. He felt unnecessarily.
We arrived at the party late and it was being entirely dominated by a man I shall call “Oscar” because he acted like Levant. He dominated all conversation and everything else. He was a newspaperman, reporter and writer on “the Orient!” He criticized no end every person I admired and went off on a long tirade in favor of Heyerdahl and Kon-Tiki. He said that was the greatest scientific contribution of the age.
In the midst of his address, Austerlitz came in. Oscar stopped. “Who are you?” and paid no attention to the answer. It was Austerlitz’ party.
Later on he attacked all Germans and my friend Bill crossed with him. I said nothing. This went on ad-nauseam and while Austerlitz was away escorting some of the girls home I departed.
After that there was a brawl in which Bill and Oscar actually came to fisticuffs and Austerlitz took up a chair and brained Oscar. Oscar is in “Who’s Who” and thinks he knows everybody yet was begging for a job or assignment. Bill came in very late. This morning he said: “Sam, I owe you an apology. I can now understand your gripes.”
For Oscar was the very incarnation of everything I have been opposing—false and colored news, false and colored Oriental Philosophies. Misinformation, labels, etc. etc. It was gratifying that the really great scientists present took an even dimmer view. I might, of course, have thrown weight but I would give Oscar no hint of my travels. He although Jew and professional one, could go in and out of any country—that was fact: but he was sure I would come to an evil end if I ever tried. I could say nothing of my contacts here at all levels. But with bill realizing that there is substance behind the gripes and the fact that he actually met a specimen in the flesh has overcome a needless gap between us. I see no success for us in world affairs until we minimize all news reporters even those we seem to like; and maximize some of our “eggheads” who are honest and objective.
New York 21, N.Y.
August 7, 1960
My dear Mr. & Mrs. Smith:
It looks as if, at long last, I shall leave the country. There has been a strange enigma about my departure, that the line on which I was originally to sail changed the date of departure three times, twice without notifying me. Instead I am going on a freighter at much less cost and in somewhat more rapid time. This enigma seems to support the existence of a Spirit of Guidance or Divine Wisdom, for certainly I depart without much of the equipment originally intended, and with much more intensified in other directions.
Originally I visited Harvard University about two months ago, I guess, and a long distance call brought a cousin down pronto. He is a professional flower grower, with some 30 acres of land, largely devoted to being a camp site. So I spent much time in the greenhouse and on the grounds, going through all the processes in Chrysanthemum raising and many with Tomato raising. Thus, instead of having to bear any financial burdens, the delay has not hurt me.
Bank of America. I have left my affairs in their hands. I purposely went down to the office which was formerly on Wall St. and now on Broad St. The ease with which I obtained transfer of funds is so wonderful that perhaps I may now write a pamphlet, “Depositor, I” covering many types of experiences. On my second visit I met the man who had serviced me previously. This was partly done to experience types of operations. The final one comes when some currencies will be purchased on the open market.
Universities. I am leaving the country with extreme satisfaction. Ford Foundation has selected, in particular, those universities which seem to me to be outstanding in so many respects, viz.: Harvard, Columbia and U. C. I go away carrying two projects for Harvard and one for Columbia. One Harvard project concerns archeological research in that part of the world—Indus Valley and Hindu Kush where, other things being equal, I may be staying the longest.
The second is in the field of religious study on an honest objective ground—which is not yet true for most of the country. I have been in this field all my life, although not always openly. Correspondence with Bishop Pike has resulted in his request to see me on my return with two projects:
a. Opening a branch of World Congress of Faiths in California.
b. Battle against the exceedingly off-beat “morality” of our movies and fiction on sale abroad.
The Columbia contact was perhaps easy because my grand teacher in both Mathematics and Philosophy was the late Prof. Cassius Keyser. (He also taught Korzybski, the general semanticist.) His pupils are around. There was a strong meeting of minds in the combination of the Integral and Pragmatic outlooks and against any and all dialectics.
Prof. Blau is coming to Claremont, California soon and I mention his name because he is now the standard authority on the history of American philosophy.
Supporting the United States. All the professors I have contacted are sympathetic with the approach of advertising the United States and not referring to Russia at all. I have a grand portfolio with excerpts from many of the New England poets which I hope to read abroad. And with that also present the names, at least, of some of our philosophers, mostly from Harvard and some contemporaries who are not so well known and should be known abroad.
Tomatoes. Of course my main endeavors will be in more scientific fields. This subject as taken up at length in Ohio and in addition to the universities mentioned above I also carry seeds and open doors to correspond with Ohio State University.
This last week I again ran into another strange piece of luck. Went down to the New York Horticultural Society to look up the possibility of a perennial Tomato, especially for India. I have been offered acreage there; and in addition to work on flowers have just had a good drilling in actual greenhouse and field work on this crop.
The Tomato was originally a perennial. Yesterday I received a letter from the Society telling me of successful experiments to grow a perennial and it is now on the market. This is one of the things we can bring to India and East Pakistan especially, where the temperatures fit the optimum range. But I shall probably begin with it in the UAR.
Near East. I only carry a Lebanon visa along with that of the UAR at the moment. But the last weeks have brought much encouragement on a project to introduce C. libani, the Cedar of Lebanon, into this country for both experimental purposes and as a contribution to every town in the United States with the name of “Lebanon” to further better international relations.
Massachusetts seems to have more cultured people than elsewhere. There are not only many universities but the total enrollment is stupendous. My family and social contacts did bring me into the orbit of people who have been pretty close to both Kennedy and Lodge, so I learned many intimacies. However, leaving the country, only the positive elements will be presented to foreigners. I discountenance the opposition to Kennedy on the ground of age. We forget how young both the elder and younger Pitt were when they began Prime Ministers; but otherwise I am leaving politics behind. In general the young minds in Massachusetts show greater capabilities than elsewhere, certainly far more than in New York. The War and the TV have broken down provincialism and accents.
Asia. I was also fortunate in meeting, while at my cousin’s, a Youth Hostel leader who comes from Ceylon and has offered to be my guide and interpreter. Much of the rest of life has been of the same order.
Publication. This has been my difficulty and I am not going into it. Newspaper interviews have so often brought a rejection of the true yet unusual. These things go on and Asians in general cannot understand, or will not accept, a strange subjectivity—in a Nation really dedicated to the practical and pragmatic.
With kindest regards to you both,
Samuel L. Lewis
Marland House Pension
16 Sharia Kamal Eddine Salah,
Kasr el Doubara, Cairo, UAR.
August 9, 1960
Dear Fred and Corinne,
This is a sort of autobiographical note before departure, by which you can evaluate the terms of my journey in any way you see first, or, at my return, check to see the correctness of it by what may be accomplished. Let me say here, that there seems to be a Spirit of Guidance far more over-compelling than the ego, which compels even more than impels changes. This compulsion, to use a word, works for freedom whereas the word “impulsion” does not. Copies are being sent to Hugo and Luise; if you do write to me, please let it be on whether either is well, or has left this world. I am not asking you any favor of telling me trouble or successes when you may not have time.
Perhaps to begin with I am compelled to eat my monistic approach for I find it harder and harder to delineate between different departments of life and the overemphasis of any, especially the social-economic, repels me to the extent that I can find no fault with those persons who have withdrawn entirely from the political disturbances. Right here it seems that those persons who emphasize “political” are off the beam, for they are demanding everything in such terms. One has just as much right to demand everything in chemical terms (which might justify a sure materialism), or in psychological or even in the narrow sense, the sexual side of psychology, which I also reject because of its restrictions. In other words “ni Marx, ni Freud” by which I don’t mean that at all, but the universalizing of narrow labels.
For the sake of communication I am going to select subject-matter and also bear in mind your interests.
Psychological Situations. I have been reading Malinowski whom I find rather subjective, but differing from Marx and Freud in that this subjectivity is needed to bring balance and objectivity. It must have been done purposely. The discovery of Radium shows that the odd provides the norm. I think this is true everywhere and the “odd” (to us) in Malinowski has provided some norms which are slowly but surely penetrating the mass mind.
The noisy problems of the present, like the election campaign, Congo, U-2 and Cuba, have such tremendous psychological factors that I am unable to view them other than indifferently politically. As a nation we have come to accept and love noise and we’re trying to impose noise on others without considering that they may react differently to it that we do. Forces are born in the midst of it, grow up with it and it has become our second nature. Other people are not so imbued with noise, activity, hard work, gadgeteering and de-naturalism, and many strong reactions and rebellions arise from the unconscious. I am sure.
I had my favorite cousin out last night and was pleased to find far more agreement than I dared let her know at the moment. Her father was related to both my parents. He was at least 90% Jewish, a rover, adventurous, free in his outlooks and conventions and the older boy follows him in much of this. The mother was a German Lutheran and on daughter follows her to the extent that she married a friend of Chang Kai Check. These strange polar inconsistencies are found all over in my kin and lead to a spirit of unsettledness. An equilibrated state between them, however desirable, seems hard to find.
I am purposefully going into other lands with other customs and outlooks, differing from Malinowski in that all of them are presumed to have reached high cultural levels. They will be and are unanimously critical of the U.S. and if left alone, could be still more critical of the U.S.S.R., but we can’t leave them alone.
Repose is our great lack and I believe that repose itself is the depository of a corrective wisdom. Here again Providence has intervened. In the last few years I have taken on the role of god-father, even fairy god-father. It has not, on the whole, been successful. But is has brought to New York some of my “children” and in their cases not only extreme good-will and affection but latent yearnings of the exact same time I have had—and perhaps you have had—for Oriental and “spiritual” teachings. This is extremely satisfying.
I often wonder, if after years, Jo Anne will not show up with outlooks desired but not expressed, and bring a new type of joy. I guess Karin is too big for our egos to circumvent, but if we can get a long range, it may turn out most satisfactory.
Horticulture. I am not going to make a lengthy report. There are innumerable signs of success and progress, which belong almost entirely in two classes: (a) what was accomplished through introductions by others; (b) what sudden activities, suggested by immediate environment proposed. The ego-planned projects have been overwhelmed by them and I leave most optimistical.
But I report this because most of the projects themselves are of a nature that the fruits of the forthcoming trip could be placed in your hands, if, as and when, God willing, you obtain the Schloss Estate, or any portion thereof. I am equally sure I have surprises and almost as equally sure that the trip will present new vistas and crops that might be tried.
Universities. I have had two big gripes which have not always brought me much cordiality in the past, and both of them have by-passed trivial, controversial personalities. Both were related to subjective opinions being paramount to objective communication. The word communication connotes an active and passive group, but I find that all-in-all the press, radio, most magazines, the romantic movement, and religion in general presume an active, loving group A, pouring it over and at an inchoate mass B, sometimes even called “mass” and not existing of you and me and he and she and thee. This is not communication to me, but propaganda.
The Ford Foundation has reached severally the opinion that the three universities with which I have relations outside the actual sciences—U.O., Columbia and Harvard—are the most deserving. There is a long history here, and this giving of grants came shortly after I had concluded by personal interviews.
Comparative Religion. In the case of Harvard the last effort was in regard to a new school dedicated to this subject wherein the teachers will not be persons who derived their knowledge from books, lectures from opinions, but who have had both experiences and non-academic credentials stemming from the parent-group of whatever the subject matter is. This will be most marked in the case of Sufism. Anyhow I gave a strong report to Roland Cammons who is a close friend of Leland Stewart and he is very satisfied. I shall be able to help Leland on another plane when I return provided he is still in California. There is much more here but we spare details.
I only wish to sell to your attention that statistically there are now and there have always been more Sufis than Zen Buddhists, Yogis, mystics and esotericists of all other schools combined; and, despite opinionated professors to the contrary, and still more, they convey positions of trust in many governments, particularly new ones. The omission here of a large portion of humanity in psychological and religious study is stupidity or nonsense.
Writing. I have come into utter bewilderment here which is not a finality, for my “god-children” are taking over for me.
Vedanta. The last three subjects con-join in plans to write a book “Vedanta Today” when I return. My memoirs are in anecdote form. My book on Zen is a sort of literalized laboratory notebook, therefore quite different from anything else. But the book on Vedanta was planned to be a collaboration and it has worked out thus:
The Vedanta Society was financed in the beginning by kinfolk and I visited Boston, but not to satisfaction. One day the secretary telephoned me, at a time I had hours to spare, poured her grief and gripes on me and made an appointment. The grief and gripes covered the same subjects and some of the same persons as my own. Her name is Mrs. Worcester and I hope to meet her some date.
I met Swami Akhilananda, and it is quite obvious that the Vedantics in this country are divided into the poetic-philosophers and the psychologists, of which Swamiji is leader. I am ordering a copy of his book from Books-in-Review and will use is as my starting-off place. It is possible here that you may wish me to speak to a few in your own house before any public lecture and if so, so note it be. The purpose of the book is to relate psychological types to Indian types. For instance, I find that the beatniks are definitely an Asura sub-type; all signs point to it. But there are words such as pizaka, raksha, yaksha, etc., and I think I can delineate them all in present society. While this is for the future the opportunities ahead should enable me to collect material.
Lecture Abroad. So many doors have opened in and for India and Pakistan we can wait until I go through actual experience.
New Near East. UAR granted me a Courtesy Visa and I finally won over the Lebanese people with a couple of projects down their ally. Here, I would rather do than say.
I failed to meet Mrs. Coomaraswami and I did meet Dr. Rifsdahl, a woman who is one of the world’s leading Egyptologists so I guess there is something in the wind. But this is opening the door for the Hollywood artists, and yourselves, in case I send objects. If I am fortunate with my big projects I would accept in return pieces of things not well known, which could be displayed—and in some cases sold. Everything in the line of study or even collecting in the Near East has brought forth cordiality … this does not touch any kind of collecting on classical lines or where the government has restrictions.
Financial Situation. A story here is like that of many old Sufis. It has been impossible to relate income and expense. I am thrown here and can’t get away. Three delays in sailing date, two without notice; then change of line and another delay. Instead of hurting me, it balanced or benefitted me. For between working for cousins and sharing expenses with a friend here there has been no great hardship. The last thing was to draw money from S.F. and apparently drained my checking account and in two days an unexpected check arrived filling the void.
My room and board in UAR will be less than $100 a month; and if I get lecture assignments, or research work, that may come out even better. I am making every effort to do everything on my own, hoping for adjustments after return to this country.
Health. My working for my cousins in Massachusetts during this interim has again caused me to feel and look well and strong. I am constantly running into criticism socially and otherwise, following by apologies when people find my age and how I look. I do not understand it myself. I have taken no vitamins but have some for abroad. There is a sort of purging-of-mind which seems to facilitate bodily functions.
Paul Wingate is here and may go home next month. His experiences support my own previous views of some or our universities. Independently he reached exactly the same conclusions. This has brought us rather close. But he is much taller than John and when one says,” Hello, basket-ball player,” he admits ha has had many offers. But he is introverted and gets along much better with older persons. I like him very much. I am expecting he will help me just before I leave.
I have rather run out of gas. The romantic element is absent just now and I can’t evaluate that. I have some professional rather than personal matters to consider with you both, which are in no hurry and perhaps more closely connected with the Vedanta note above than anything else. It is only that today we may be having other means of reaching the same ends or goals.
My contract with Columbia is resulting in strong emphasis on integrating and unitary flows. The question is how much one can hold oneself together and control both thought and habits. I forbear to criticism on two entirely different grounds neither of which is generally understood excepting by those who have such philosophical approaches. Institutions and symbols, yes, and perhaps over-compensation here.
There is much more but it does not matter. My next letter should come from Cairo.
Samuel L. Lewis
Morland House Pension
16, Sharia Kemal Eddine Salah,
Kasr el Doubara,
My dear Margaret:
This is really a diary entry and in no sense excepting coincidental a letter. My war against the press goes merrily on. The other night there was at party in which my room-mate and a newspaper man actually came to blows and a professor, the putative guest of honor, brained the newsman. It had been the professor’s party, the newsman was fill-in guest for an absentee which did not bother him, he just took over. This was symbolic.
Last night was really more serious. I have been to India and seen riots not reported and noted brawls extended to fast fracases. I was on a pilgrimage with 100,000 people in India, not a word in the press…. We want to the Park to attend a Shakespeare presentation of “Measure for Measure.” This is neither one of the best nor one of the best known of the plays. We had a long walk. If anything like that took place at the ball grounds there would have been cameras all over the place. It took a long time to get to the end of the line we never did reach the theater.
The press had been printing that the plays would be stopped—no public interest. Two days back 300 or so athletes raced across Manhattan. There was a policeman at every corner. Here there were so many thousands and thousands of people, you could get no idea, no policeman. Yet despite that the lines were orderly everyday kept their places, instead of pushing and shoving the opposite. And I could read nothing in the papers today. Some interests say there is no interest in Shakespeare or art. And despite the many, many millions here, the attendance at the ball grounds is small—and the Yankees have often been in first place.
The public protest has been orderly, dignified and grand. We may have seen 20,000; we may have seen 50,000; we did not on the south side of the arena, but north, east and west. The people were intellectual types—you did not see sporting types and the Puerto Rico and Spanish-types were absent, but I guess there were representative of all other New York groups. The attendance was far more wonderful than the slow.
As we stood in line the conversation on was on modern art and modern poetry. I told them that where I came from Frank Lloyd Wright was God-the-Father and he had the angels San Rafael and San Gabriel on his side and you would soon see the temple labeled “San Rafael Courthouse” or something. You can put that in the book. The general opinion too, was that the art museums are vast expansive buildings for contractors, architects, boards of directors and great names of the past.
It was a pleasant evening and we decided to go to the village. At the moment my pocket are rather full and the days for spending few. There I met:
Anne V. Brovaka
39 Bedfors St.
New York, NY
and her protégé John Duffy. He objected to something I said and turned: “But I am a quarter-leprechaun. From that on it was one of the best evenings of my life.
Shean O’Casey occupies much space in the press and we started there. John
is a lover of
Masefield and Whitman. He is very much opposed to Ferlinghetti and Kerouac (where have I heard these names before?). Our ideas of poetry and poets covered much common ground.
Anna is primarily a teacher and editor rather than a writer per se. She is working on an anthology. She mentioned her advisors and to me they are the tops in American Literature today (this is my personal view and has nothing to do with accepted conclusion). We agreed that I might send her some of my shorter things, and what I write on ship board.
My aesthetic studies have given me a picture which is between painting and poetry, very suggestive of what I might write on board. I am scheduled to leave now on the 16th. My writing is being over to my god- son and god- daughter who are here from the West-coast.
But I am primarily writing this to give you Anna’s address and to feel out your own way with her. The rest of the letter is either padding or diary notes.
August 18, 1960
This is really a long diary and I am not sure of continuity of anything else. There are only 4 men passenger, the rest women and the men are either harmonious, alike or tamed—this include myself. The women not so.
Sam is not having too good a time. The weather is very stormy and there is almost a continuous headache, but not so far, thank goodness, any trouble with the stomach. This makes for listlessness and I am taking refuge at the typewriter and there is no eagerness. I did a few moments calligraphy this a.m. and have my language books out, but no campaign figured as yet.
With Puck it is different. At the moment there is no chance of any hostilities with Miss Missionary. Madame Puerto not only came on board, but took over. She is stout, extroverted, loud, fond of men and wine, an entertainer, very talkative, very active and it is not so much nervousness as being her actual nature. There does not seem, for the moment, any middle ground between her and the missionary. The latter is retired and almost sullen. Courtesy and consideration do not bring out smiles in her, and the loud kindnesses of Mrs. P.R. are misunderstood.
Last night I was asked to move my table to sit opposite Mrs. P.R. so the ladies could sit together, Miss Missionary with them. But to my amazement, at lunchtime, the latter also moved and to an empty table and would not—I mean would not and did not—sit with the women I thought she knew. The result has been considerable confusion socially and otherwise and I do not know where it will end.
On my Pacific trip the Captain took over socially and everyone became adjusted. But this Captain has a sour disposition. He is agin’ the government and I rather sympathize with him. He is a Southerner, which we did not expected, though his name “Lang” might mean something else in ancestry. Although he disclaims book learning, I have seen no evidence of this and he has strong opinions, based either on study or experience.
At first it was a little hard to get at him because he attacked persons, ideas and institution at me and through me when in fact I also might be expected to attack the same person ideas and institution. It took him little while to find I was not a real antagonist, but I don’t know what will happen when he becomes a more familiar with other passengers whom I suspect will not always agree with him or may seldom with other passengers whom I suspect will not always agree with him or may seldom agree with him.
I think Miss Missionary is also rebuffed—by herself, of course—because nearly all the passengers like cards and games and probably liquor also. She is treated as if a Protestant nun and I don’t think she wants to be treated as a Protestant nun. You can’t please everyday and I am glad one EWH does not have to come with her.
I have had no dreams and can’t think, ideate or get in any mood, creative, literary or otherwise—at this moment, 14:10 o’clock watch time which is neither authentic, official or anything but quasi- or crazy-New York time.
This is my diary note for the 27th. I have not kept a diary. In crossing the Pacific my stomach was bad and my head good; in crossing the Atlantic my stomach was good and my head bad. Still I prefer the latter. We ran into hurricanes and billows until we neared the Azores. After that things calmed down, my head got better and I have been feeling fine since.
I feel slightly like a veteran along with the companions. Most of them are taking a world tour, which does not cost much but does not give them much time inland. They are planning all sorts of things which I would not dare to plane so you can’t catch planes like trains and when you have to change at airports to lines of difference nationalities you can get stuck. Beside name of them has made any pre-preparations.
There is a lady on board going to Pakistan and we may get off at Beirut together and visit the American University. At the moment I have no other planes.
I found that many of the officers seem to like folk-music. One man specializes in Polish dances on American things which we use in square-dancing. I enjoy those records.
Purchased a small transistor from Japan just before I left New York. Got it at an inside price. My dealer, Bud Fiske did not reply to two letters so I did not get the big set I ordered. I think I may leave this in Pakistan and may even get another one later on, according to conditions.
Around the Azores we began picking up Portuguese stations and more and more of them and then Moorish stations. We had a near collision last night and the whistles woke me up-just in time. For we were passing Gibraltar and I thought the whistles were signals therefore. I found nearly everybody was up—the crew at stations, the passengers to see the light on either side.
We sighted Portugal long before and today we have been sighting the Spanish Coast. I was not successful in picking up any Spanish station until today, with one acceptation. That exception was putting on a tango program. So were a lot of other stations. Tangos have their place but not off the coast of Andalusia. Well bless you this a.m. it was deef-fir-ent (pronounce French way).
Have I had a castanet session! Have I? Don’t ask! Boy, was it great. We had flamenco and all kinds of la musicas and I got excited and came back and finished my writing so I could record this. I may be out on deck more so I can try out the stations and castanets and all. I am hoping by the time we dim out for Spain I can pick up Italy.
There is a woman on a board from Puerto Rico who is hoping we can still pick up Spain tonight so she can put on a floor show. The dining room is wired for records, but we may go on deck or have some other arrangement. One officer has a big Zenith set which is supposed to be able to tune in anywhere, any time.
Have written a few other letters but again don’t know where I shall post them. We do not land until Beirut which means a quick trip, but after that? Only I get off at Alexander. They will be stuck in the Red See, I think at Mocha. Some may fly immediately to India and others will not get off until Karachi, and think they can “see” India in a few days picking up the boat at Bombay. I am afraid there will be sad awakenings for them.
My writing is on “Saladin,” the guy that gave the Crusaders the good ol’ one-two. Feel fairly confident that it will be received.
August 27. 10 o’clock or so. I guess.
August 28, 1960
This is my diary note. This morning I woke up after some complicated dreams in which you were the chief character. I arrived back in S.F. to find you in a very strange state of mind. You told me you were in a horrible fix as Dr. Baker had just died and you could not get any more horoscopes, but through the series of episodes, in one after another, you had no time to sit down with me as you had a sudden appointment to go out and arrange a chart. So you were in and out constantly and I could make no head or tail of your affairs because it appeared you were earning more money than ever.
I was not to stay in San Francisco so I paid a month’s rent on a place to put my baggage and furniture in it, and had to go away, presumably to Southern California for I took only two pieces with me. I was not going to stay a full month and said you could use the place. But when I got back everything was clean and in order and it seemed you had not been using the place much excepting the first few days after I had gone.
You were not happy but your astrology work was taking you further afield. You not only had more clients but they were spread out and evidently informing others. So, with the disappearance of Blanche you were not only on your own but making good.
I could learn nothing more in the dreams from you either about yourself or anybody. You looked somewhat better than when I had last seen you but carried a look of dismay.
We did have some differences in other fields. I called to your attention that not only had I been rather successful but successful in just those things about which there had been dark forebodings and not always so successful where it was presumed I would succeed.
There was the need for substantial real thinking both in regard to Asia and on other matters. The disappearance of the American Academy made the way open for honest, objective teachings on Asia, but if I said anything, all you said was, ”yes, yes” or “I have to go“ and you really did.
Turning to Bertrand Russell today I am strengthening myself in just those matters of logic and thinking upon which doors were closed in California and opened on the East Coast. What that means at the moment I do not know, but I am carrying Oliver Reiser and Pitirim Sorokin around and may be introducing them into the Orient.
I have three complete avenues in Egypt: The American University, the mixed ones and those which are obviously Arabic. I am planning first to call at the American University at Beirut. Most on board want to go to the Holy Land—there will not be much time, but they will go so I may be the only passenger the last few days. We passed near Tunis today, and the other night through Gibraltar—we could see the lights. Tonight I am getting only French and Arabic music and one U.S.A. station but tomorrow should be near Sicily. I like Spanish music most and far prefer Italian to French.
September 2, 1960
It is with extreme delicacy that the diary entry for today should be written in the name of Puck or no other than Samuel. We reached Beirut on the night of September 1st and the Captain summoned us to his quarters to meet three Lebanese doctors and all that. “As-salaam aleikum.” I am dar-veesh. The Captain then challenged and we gave a lot of answers that he could not understand and when the customs man came around, “You have nothing to declare, no contraband,” holding their heads in the opposite direction and saying, “Glad to met you Ahmed Murad.” The Captain was not proud and nobody else. Which adds another chapter to innocents abroad, or something.
By six o’clock in the a.m. we were alongside and a grand rush of men up the gang plank. Were they customs men? Money-changers? Merchants? Travel agents? Boy, how wrong can you be. They were barbers and they followed everybody around and made all business on board impossible. We could not organize, we could not eat, the cargo was not being unloaded and they could go in and out of a crowd like nobody. Then they went around and knocked on everybody’s doors, waking up those who had just come off watch and sleep was impossible. Fortunately we had gone to bed early, had a wonderful night’s sleep and we were delightful.
Most of the folks went to Damascus. This includes Julia who is not talking to us and eight people who are not talking to Julia. The last we heard was that they were fighting. Then the barbers surrounded us and I said: “I have plenty of business.” “What kind of business?” “I am Ahmed Murad and I am a dar-veeeesh.” Barber No. 2 looked at me, dropping his jaw, dropping his tools, dropping his head and looking about as astonished as it is possible to look astonished. “I am Ahmed Murad and I am a dar-veeesh!” “Come! I give you fresh hair-cut!”
Now one Jew or one Greek is better than two Turks or Bulgarians and one Armenian is worth two Jews or two Greeks, but whoever did this to a Lebanese! Not in history, not in mystery and there, the free hair-cut. And I am Ahmed Murad, Dar-veeeesh. I shall have to come back home and burn 1,000,000 candles for Father Antoninus, or something.
Well, we visited the American University and had a fine time, only it is summer session and the place is empty of Syrians, Lebanese and Americans. This was fine for Puck who ran into Pakistanis about every three inches and finally settled on two from Dacca. “You know Shantinangar St?” “Of course, of course.” “You know Maulana Abdul Ghafoor?” “Of course, of course.” He is my murshid, I am darveesh.” More jaw-dropping, etc. They also know Sophia Khan the poet and all that. They introduced me to a man from Iran. “Where you come from?” “Shiraz.” “O city, of beautiful poetry. O land of Hafiz, and bulbul and gul and running streams and holy places….” The Iranian began to drop his jaw more than the Pakistanis. Anyhow we gave them all choco-laat and distributed choco-laat all over the campus, even to the profs.
Then my guide got me a taxi who took me around. Visited the airport and spoke about a trip to Bagdad. Then went all around down-town. Went into Mosque. It was Friday but early. Everybody was studying Holy Qur’an, really. Nobody paid attention, no spies, no suspicions! Imagine, a Mosque and men praying to Allah and not eyeing the foreigner. So we did three rakats and got up and put our shoes on and gave £1-Lebanese to the door-keeper who knew I was a holy man and then I said “Subhan Allah” and he was sure of it, but Puck does not know whether he is a scoundrel or a hypocrite or the real thing, whatever that is.
The passengers had visited down town the night before, but we took a different look. We visited the Lebanese museum. To get “in” with the Lebanese all you have to do is say: “I think you are the descendent of the Phoenicians.” That makes them happy. Tell the scoundrels that you think that they are the most honest, hospitable and noble people and they will say behind their breath “Yes, suckers, we are going to prove it, too.” Tell them that you love them and they will ask, “how much?” Tell them anything and they will say: “uh-huh,” but tell them you think they are descended from the Phoenicians, the country is yours. They will do anything.
Anyhow the museum was closed. “Too bad, and I am so interested in the Phoenicians!” “What you say?” “I am so interested in the Phoenicians.” “Come inside so I can hear?” “I am so interested in the Phoenicians.” “Oh, you look around.” So Puck looked around and saw plenty. “I am so interested in the Phoenicians!”
So back to cab-driver. “I am so interested in the Phoenicians.” The same with the guide at the University, “I am so interested in the Phoenicians.” So discuss the Phoenicians when you come to Beirut and let Damascus and BaalBek take care of themselves.
Then I asked the cabbie, what religion. “Maronite.” “What language you use in church?” “Silly question, Arabic, of course.” Last night I asked the steamer agent. What religion? “Maronite.” “What language?” Silly question, Latin of course.” Then I asked the guide, what religion? “Maronite.” “What language?” Old Syrian, of course, foolish question.” Later the cabbie pointed out, “That Roman church, they use French!” What’ll Father Antonious say now.
We then went to lunch, diner’s club card and had lots of chicken; olives and cheese, kibbie two styles and no room for dessert of coffee. About $3 for two people. My cabbie is Michele. He has two names, and like Puck he tries you out—if you are Arab he has one name, and if Westerner another and does not object to being called Mike if you say it with piasters.
We saw the rich section then to our surprise, a very large and prosperous Jewish section, all looking well-to-do and smiling. It was almost unbelievable, but there it was and Hebrew writing staring me in the face.
We then called at the Indian Embassy. My friend Bannerji has been promoted to under-secretary of Foreign Affairs and is back in New Delhi. So it was not necessary to stay, but this will help when we get there.
The Lebanese were very cooperative in helping me get rid of £-Lebanese and piasters excepting for the souvenirs and I have now bought more £-Egyptian for entry into that country. Maybe more happened. But I am Ahmed Murad, or P. Puck or Sam Lewis according to the audience and my own audacity and three can live better than one or maybe this proves the trinity or its merit or something. I don’t know.
Next Day. The tourists came back and saw the hair-cut. “How much?” “Nothing.” The next: “No questa nada.” “But you must have paid something?” Next person: “Didn’t you have to pay anything?” “Rien du tout.” By this time Puck’s stock hit a bear market. In they came and the nose diving continue but the Chief Engineer came in with a new hair-do. “How much, Chief?” “Zero pfennigs.” “Do you mean to say that you did not have to pay?” “Ditto and roger.” They began looking at each other. In walked the Second Mate. “So you got a haircut, how about the price?” “Who said anything about price. I got a haircut. No price.” “But what did it cost?” “A thousand ciphers!” By that time Puck’s stock had recovered: it went up and up, even out of the bull-market range. Puck scratched his head—he should have invested in himself. “O ye men of little faith.” Then Puck gave a lecture and they listened: “When in Lebanon if you meet a Muslim praise the prophet: if you meet a Christian, praise the Phoenicians.” The opposition melted, the tourists became so meek that they might even inherit the earth.
The Pukhtunistan Special
Prof. Von Plotz was not there. He does not know Ambassador Hussein. Hardly anybody else did. This made it easy for Puck. But Puck was wiser and luckier. The man you snub might be an Ambassador too. “Met the Ambassador from Indonesia.” Puck did. He met everybody from Indonesia. The Indonesians met everybody. Nobody else met everybody. “Met the Delegate from the Republic People’s Democratic Socialist Government of Counter-Soviet China.” What! “Meet the Delegate from the People’s Soviet Socialist Republic of Independent China.” “What!” “And meet the Minister at Large from the Independent Democratic People’s Counter Republic of Inner Mongolia.” “What!” “Meet the Ambassador from Innerman-Churia”
Now Puck is a great lover of the Innerman and to meet the delegate from Innerman-Churia was something. Puck forgot the Chinese. The Indonesians greeted everybody. The Chinese did not greet each other and didn’t do much greeting. The Pakistani Ambassador just ate and skipped. The British got off in a corner and discussed fishing. The Swedes went off in a corner and drank. The Indians kept away from the corners and went after the food.
Puck talked to all the Indians. He also listened to all the Indians. Puck liked the Indonesians and the Indians the best. He said he loved everybody. But the fact is that Puck is a devotee to the Innerman, and when he had a chance to taste the curries he almost forgot himself. He likes Indonesian food; he also likes Indian food and got a lot of invitations to dinners. He proved it by eating and really enjoying the hottest curry. That is good diplomacy. The British don’t like curries and the Germans went to the hors d’ouvres and ate and ate and kept away from the curries. Beer was served in another room, and cocktails for the elite, which everybody owned to belonging to but Puck and one other Indian whom nobody else spoke to.
The Spaniards and the Commies danced to avoid each other. Puck met the delegate from Lemnos, and the Consul from Cocos Island and New Falklands and a lot of other places. The trouble is that he has to go home and look at Atlases. The Ambassador kept the cultural attaché close by and always asked him—in Hindi, of course—“Where the h--l is Sputnikistan, or something.” “Oh, I just love your country. I think the New Zealanders are the best people….” “But I come from New South Wales.” “Isn’t that a part of New Guinea?” Puck prefers to discuss food and does not get into geographical messes; he has his own kind of messes.
The Soviet delegate did not come. He talks about the masses and gets into the messes. Puck talks about the messes and gets into the masses. There were no servants, only one or two caterers and they had to hop, skip and jump. You can tell the rank—those who go after the drinks and avoid food are always the rankest. They don’t bother about the guest of the evening. It was the same—nobody knew the Ambassador and nobody cared much, but he has a pretty wife. The only trouble is that saris make all women look beautiful; still they did not compete with her, they just out-competed the Europeans. The French women looked awful. The Indonesian women also looked beautiful, the Spanish … the Indonesian were also beautiful … the Americans … don’t bother Puck. He was speaking to the Indonesian women and telling them he would like to visit their country. He really would. The Ambassador from Indonesia looks as if he were half-Chinese. Despite what you read, the Indonesians greeted all the Chinese and not many others, of course Puck. Rijstafel Zindabad.
“The Flying Clipper,”
September 3, 1960
My dear Rudy:
This is my last day on board and I am jotting down some notes which I hope you will appreciate. The first is a sure confirmation of my former conclusion that I don’t want to travel by air again unless I absolutely have to—which will mean that somebody else foots the bill. Whatever was not perfect on this trip is of so little consequence that there will be no reference to it.
Roughly the sea voyage came in three parts. First, the Atlantic until near the Azores. On my Pacific trip my mind was clear but my stomach was in difficulties, although I never did vomit. On this trip my stomach has been clear throughout but in general, coming across the Atlantic I had headaches. I prefer them, however and on entering the Mediterranean they disappeared. That first part was rough and I have heard at times it gets very rough.
After the Azores the trip was comparatively smooth and also I began to pick up first Portuguese and then Moorish stations. In general I got short waves from either Great Britain or U.S. overseas.
We passed Gibraltar at night. A near–by collision caused slight commotion at which I woke up and found most of the passengers on deck and some stayed until morning. We also sighted Sicily, Tunis and Cyprus. The Mediterranean was blue, calm and delightful. I should say it was about as delightful as any journey I have made so far and certainly recommend it.
Although we left New York about 5 days late, we have picked up a little time—it does not matter much, I guess. Yesterday was spent at Beirut where I visited the University, the air-port, one mosque, the Indian Embassy and had a fine lunch on my Diners’ Club Credit card—strictly Lebanese food, some new to me. The cost was not high—about $3 including tip. I also bought more £ Egyptian and a few Rs. Pakistani.
Most of the folks went to Damascus and Baalbek. Here I must say that the Isbrandtsen line is very cooperative and informative and I am hoping to have a little of the same at Alexandria. It is possible that I may return to Beirut later on, en route to either Damascus or Bagdad. This depends on the unforeseen. I have filed an entry form and have given very good references, about the same as in Washington and New York.
This is a good line to take my trip to Karachi, pending ability to get a room. I had the stateroom alone due to cancellations, and there were no uppers—plenty of space and a nice closet. Sometime when I am home I hope to take the Captain and the Stewart to “The Captain’s Galley” in San Francisco, on Chestnut St. But this is ahead of schedule.
Since entering the Mediterranean I have slept wonderfully, even with all the noise at the dock. I may write further after going ashore. We arrive early on the Morning of September 4, after leaving N.Y. August 17th—which I consider good time.
Samuel L. Lewis
September 7, 1960
My dear Harry:
I feel like a person who has asked from permission to visit a playground and while he is waiting has been given free tickets to the World Series. When I visited the Soils Section of Cairo University I was told I had to see one Mr. Salah who is a big shot in the Agricultural Department and he told Mr. Dewsouki that a new government regulation had gone into effect requiring permits for visits. This was undoubtedly true for I was fortunate enough even to get into the high echelon offices and most of the time was spent trying to get through crowds who were being held back. It was not that way before.
Mr. Paul Keim of ERIS, which is the Reclamation-Irrigation Service cooperative between the UAR and the U.S. has given me a stack of names and I can’t visit them all—in fact I have not gotten very far down the list and am busy every day. He sent me to Dr. Turki, who is the head of the National Research Bureau. This is a coordinating functional department of all the top scientists of this region. It is divided into five sections: Chemical, Physical, Agricultural, Medicinal and Coordinating-Publications.
Dr. Turki turned me ever to one Dr. Kabash and the big parade is on for me. First I visited section No. 5 and in a sense will be dealing with them on and off. They are very much delighted with the plans we worked out—indeed everybody is here. The only thing is that I am on the spot and am given personal credit, but I think I’ll bring up your name more beginning today.
The Library and Publications section have scientifically books from all over the world. They gave me their organization sheet and two big pamphlets covering Science as a whole and Cotton. I have gone through these things and gotten some fair judgment as to the contributions of all the Nations of the world to contemporary Science. This word, of course, is used rather loosely, as Mathematics is included and some farms of engineering are in, others out, What is strange is that C.E. and Irrigation are rather out.
They have a large and active photography department, microfilm department and all the latest equipment—assuming I know that I am talking about after visiting Berkeley, Japan, Ohio State, etc. I am sorry that between enthusiasm, surprise and desire to visit name of the labs, I could not take detailed noted and perhaps the desire to go to stacks also kept me back.
In running over the material it is quite serious that Russia is leading in Atomic Physics, running neck and neck with us in Nuclear Physics with Italy a good third here and is simply out when it comes to soil Science. There the United States leads but Canada is doing proportionally more than any other land. But taken the whole catalogue into the picture it is silly to talk of Sciences or cultural “races.”
I was particularly interested in the Soil Science because I have been argued down by brand names people not in Horticulture on this point and equally cornered by brand names in Horticulture for the same thing. Yesterday when I was waiting I came upon a copy of “Soviet Soil Science” translated by An American Bureau of Geological Sciences, 2000 P. St., N. W. Washington 6, They use highly technical spectroscopic and microscopic methods, presumably super-assaying but I saw nothing to indicate good chemical knowledge and techniques.
The reviews in the back were enlightening. They were filled with ~~ on communism and the lab technicians and with strong criticism of commissars and officials for failing to broadcast the accumulated knowledges. But how anybody, trained in dialectics and bureaucracy interprets doubtful mathematical, physical, chemical tables I don’t know. I have some training and no dialectics and when I see pressure, temperature, percentage graphs and no chemical symbols I have a pretty tough time.
You can analyze rock fazes and know how much P or Na is in them without giving any idea of how much is available for crops, and there was never any suggestion as to what crops would be successful in the soil. Of course there was a good geological and fase-soil-analysis. Bur here in UAR the whole problem is the adaptation of crops, etc.
Plant Pathology. I have visited each department twice, but in this case the second visit was social to report what I have been doing, They are conducting a number of experiments on light and heat exposures with wheat and Datura. There is absolute control. While the chambers are like refrig-chambers, they are also like ovens, not too different from some I have seen in seed-testing labs. They are under no illusion and are very objective.
Wheat. It is interesting to find that wheat can be grown at high temperatures. There is not enough moisture for rice and it is too warm for Rye. If they flood during early stages they get a maximum of Protein and if they flood later they get a good Hay crop with a maximum of Starch, so they are now flooding early. They regard this as an important discovery.
Sugar. They are having trouble in finding the maximum Sucrose analogous to the maximum protein above. There will have to be, in my estimation, not only light and heat tests but K control. What the Russians missed is that K may be present in large quantities and not available. That is true here. Anyhow I have copied my Louisiana materials for them and will turn over some stuff tomorrow.
Soils. I took this matter up here because they have asked me whether we had any Sugar Cane in the dry areas of Arizona and California. I told than that owing to the high salt content in various places we plant Sugar Beets and not Cane. I shall bring them the bulletin on Desert Agriculture tomorrow. I do not think they have given enough attention to Sugar Beets; and on the other hand they have not industrialized Cane by-products and waste.
They are making a complete and detailed soil survey. They have already made a detailed petrological survey. Incidentally, in the Russian literature, Russia seems way behind UAR here. They send “technicians” in to get, not to give. The universal trouble is the high Na-pH and this requires leaching or change without much water. They use Superphos, but not Sulphur or sulfuric acids and leaf mould decidedly is not.
We had a long discussion on water problems where I have the same view as Paul Keim above on all points and I find they are not goal logicians. They have not always had these stiff mathematical disciplines requiring exactitude. I feel, and last night received the first confirmation, that all is not well as Assouan.
Plant Protection. Now I have been running around in high places and meeting all kinds of people and had also a lot of humorous incidents, beginning with a free hair cut in Beirut and it has been "the Baron that tells the jokes." But yesterday fate caught up with me in the person of one Dr. Sahahm Hasan who is in charge of this section and he has been gum-shooing me and how! I don’t know. Anyhow he was at Berkeley until July and he not only knows a lot of my friends but was given the grape-vine on me. So he got the laughs—which I deserve—and we are good friends.
His assistant, Dr. Talib, gave me his successful story on Nematodes. He has tried every sort of chemical and every other method with successes all the way from 10%-90%. But he has found a petroleum by-product which gives not only 100% successful results as a soil fumigant but does not inhibit plant growth at all. His assistant had me look at one and I told her the female of the species was far more deadly than the male. But it did not look ugly so it does not matter. He is very proud of this.
Although this unity is called "Plant Protection" it deals about equally with Plant Pests and Household or Medical pests. The big problem is the Cotton Worm. It is a different species but the same Genus as the one in the States. However it eats anything and escapes from one host to another. Like in India they have all the right spraying equipment and the chemicals but they do not understand the heat and wind factors and spraying has often been done at too high temperatures. So they often resort to handpicking. This has had the result of the worm leaving the cotton fields and going on to food plants. It is very omnivorous and what is worse, it sometimes does not return to the original host—which means more money for the agriculturists but less food.
There had been somewhat effective biological; controls but the good parasite had not been studied enough and, of course, was often removed by spraying. This has meant going back to the beginning. Still one section is working on predators.
There are four types of sprays which have been used: Chlorinated hydrocarbons like DDT, cyclic compounds like Toxophone, phosphate hydrocarbons, and carbamates. They have been using these with various strengths to test residual effect as poisons, also to study the effect on crops, their growth, soil condition, etc., etc. This also means diverse and detailed studies as to different hosts on which the Moth thrives.
They are now approaching an Integration Control. All factors are taken into consideration and everything from pest-resistant strains of plants down to proper percentages from the standpoint of effective control, costs, net crop, etc., etc.
While they did have some Mite problems at the beginning, and there are two types of Mites, when DDT is not used, this problem does not appear.
The department is now troubled over Mosquitoes and Household pests. The Mosquito control is difficult because there is no one department, the Engineers, Sanitation Board and Research Center still working independently.
I dropped the typewriter to go to the Embassy where I am not only spending much time but given every consideration. The years I have given to Oriental studies has been recognized and the difficulties I ran into in so many institutions in the United States because the instructors in so-called "Asiatics" were Europeans is recognized; I am given full sympathy. Both the Americans and Hindus are giving full cooperation for a future lecture program. This will cover many branches of American Culture: art, philosophy, religion and science. All my past inhibitions have been overcome and it is even possible that I shall be programmed at the Embassy.
On top of that the new Ambassador from India is an old friend who long lived in San Francisco and who was my host in New Delhi. It is possible that I shall help arranging a joint social affair here in this regard.
After mailing this I visit both the Research Center and the vegetable Experimental Station. The one of the managers here and I may tour the bazaars. And next week I hope to be at the disposal of Dr. Hasan. In other words, Harry, I am going on all cylinders but watching my step. However, one thing is conceded, I am older if not wiser than everybody I meet and even the quantitative accumulation of the years is sometimes respected; although perhaps there is some quality, too.
There have been dangled before me trips to distant areas. I hope this is possible. The integration of agricultural, social and archeological research is one of my local themes. There are great Christian ruins in places now called deserts where there used to be much water. What happened is a mystery and though I am reading one of the few books available on that period, it throws no light on the subject.
This evening, for the first time, there is a clouded sky. I don’t know if this means anything.
I do not know how they can introduce organics here other that the present green manure cropping. The nearest Forestry college is at Alexandria, though I may bet introductions from Syria. Few of the trees here are extremely drought resistant. But the one cannot face all problems at one time.
Samuel L. Lewis
PS. Another bit of luck. Don Smith of the USIS arrived here today. He was my host at Karachi, and I already have the whole Embassy working for and with me now.
September 8, 1960
My dear Jack:
I am now in Cairo and I find things totally different from most reports. I cannot, of course, vouch for what I am saying and it is true I am also submitting primary reports to at least one paper. But the first thing I ran into is that for all practical purposes the United States has gone “underground” and doing very well indeed.
Of course three days” observations do not prove anything. The countryside, coming down from Alexandria, looked far more prosperous and energetic than anything I have seen in India or Pakistan, or for that matter, Mexico. It may be that I have come during the “bright” season. The Nile impressed me far more than the Indus or Ganges—all of these are different from the rivers of “The Far East” where many people live on boats and fish or trade therefrom.
I am both going slow and yet not losing time, trying to fall in with the local rhythm. As Monday was Labor Day I could do nothing with Americans and called at Al-Azhar, the famous Egyptian University; I may be going there again. There is a section specializing in English, but of course, one attends to preliminary matters first.
Both in here and Lebanon, there are two “languages”—whatever the local idiom is, and a mélange of French and English. I already met the Ambassador from Mexico or Morocco, because of this. The local French paper has little news, but actually more than the American Herald-Tribune or Times because they are full of editorials.
I only spent one day at Beirut, half that time at the American University. The session does not open until October 3rd and the same holds true for some of the local universities, too. There the Americans. Lebanese and Syrians were away but I met quite a few Pakistanis. Almost every country of the Near East, in the widest sense of the term, sends students to the American U. at Beirut, They are successful in everything but religion; indeed the trend is toward weakening the Americans in their faith and the theological section is far behind Harvard. They are most successful in medicine and veterinary science.
The local American U, is much smaller and very close by. My putative host therefrom is away until the end of the month. My main Egyptian host is now in the United States but I shall be august of the Government (Agricultural Department) Saturday.
Another host is away and I shall wait until he returns. He is head of one of the banks here and also of the Chamber of Commerce. Make no mistake about it, this country is not “neutralist” economically. It is definitely ahead of any Asian nation excepting Japan. I shall not compare it to Israel which was heavily subsidized from abroad. But I see nothing to indicate that if the same moneys had been sent here you might have had even greater results.
One of the outstanding features is the willingness and the policy to “begin at the beginning.” Our old homestead idea of “40 acres and a cow,” slightly modified, is the basic feature here. We are helping this being established, both in the older lands already cultivated and in new lands being opened up. The water research is going ahead full speed.
Americans are working with Egyptians at their level and pace. There is no published material; it is all done slowly and quietly. These people may be land-hungry—if so it as individuals and as individuals they are being fed. I think they have much more savoir-faire than I have found elsewhere. I did not run into anywhere the amount of beggary and the poor sections, though poor, are nothing like India and Pakistan.
The banking and business sections indicate a nation quite bourgeois in outlook, but with strong doses of humanism and humanitarianism. After all there is plenty of land, American engineers are undertaking hydrological surveys and on a grand scale. This land used to be rich. Water is underground at many places. It has strange physical and chemical properties which are being studied. This will lead to indications as to what crops may be sown, etc. There are, fortunately for me, many U. C. graduates in high places in both the American group and in the UAR Government itself.
In other words, here is a land running on essentially capitalistic bases, modified by monetary power, and the enormous tracts of lands which have become deserts. On the other hand, the people are more Muslim in a certain sense than elsewhere, in that they hold to religion or their religion and this keeps them from following the United Sates with its strange mixture of Christianity and libertarianism—which became confused in the eyes of foreigners.
The second element against us of course, is our failure to have racial integration. Many Negroes here look exactly as in the United States excepting that they smile more strongly. In general the Negro smiles much and the Arab has a different, rather calculated, unspontaneous laugh. There will be a Pan-African Congress here later on. If fighting takes place in the Congo, the people will blame Russia for it—whether Russia is to blame or not.
Indications are that Egypt will align itself with Yugoslavia, or Yugoslavia with the Arab Bloc in international affairs. I understand today too, that country is now taking a lead in trying to enforce peace in Africa.
It is too early to prognosticate about Assouan. As my contacts have been limited to engineers, scientists and bankers, there is no love toward the Fourth Estate. The success or failure at Assouan is likely to be a matter of engineering and not of emotion. It is quite likely that we shall be bringing water to this land from several sources before Assouan is completed, if and when it is completed. Fortunately I have had enough background to be given some pretty complete information.
Recognition of folly in the past, such as cutting down trees, etc. is quite evident. The planting of Eucalyptus trees, which I tried to “sell” to India, is operative hare on exactly the basis I wished to see there—fast growing trees, giving fire wood and enabling the peasant to return dung to the soil. I do not know when you will hear from me. It is warm, not conducive to activity, and every time I have stepped out I have had more fortunate response.
September 9, 1960
My dear Harry:
I am now in Cairo and am sending this see-mail because the way things stand at the moment my postage expense is going to be pretty stiff. This may not matter, but my mail has not come, and while I get two financial reports a month from one bank and one from another, without them the tendency is to be cautious. When I find a suitable surplus I unload. One ho other hand I found that dollars here buy more £ Egyptian than I had been foretold so there is no worry, only inability to balance counts.
I stopped off one day at Beirut and visited the American U. there. But summer session is on which meant the Americans, Syrians and Lebanese were not present. My presumable host is one Prof. Holliday in Horticulture and he will not be back until October 3rd. I was taken through the labs, which are doing fine research in soils, and this has been confirmed in conversation here in Cairo. But there was me chance to take up matters of plant lists, propagation, fertilizers, etc.
The campus is well landscaped and is not too different from C. C. excepting that it runs from hill-top to seashore, but only on one side just like your campus. There are a few C. libanus but not well. I suspect this is due to the soil which looks as if it had been eroded of nitrogenous material. E. globulus has become almost the international tree in this region. (Oh, no, it won’t grow in India, as we won’t try it!) Some are in excellent shape, at least equal to those in G. G. Park or even better.
The flowers I have seen in Lebanon and here are what you could expect—Mexican fire bush, Salvias, Phlox. I have not made any detailed observations. Of course you see plenty of Palms and not a few conifers.
The country from Alexandria to here looked lush and in sharp contrast to the Indus. The sugar Cane was deeply colored. The highway is being landscaped, almost entirely with E. globulus and Casuarinas. But the latter do not stand up too well in the wind. And the E. globulus is being used exactly as I wanted to propose for India—being pruned and the branches used for firewood or other utility. This is, of course, only a preliminary sketch.
I did see one droll thing—Cacti growing in a land where I was told they would not and could not grow. But where??? In the ditches. They were dark green, rotting and looking awful with wet feet. So far this is the only negative note.
Sam lands is the greatest fool for damn-luck you ever saw. Before getting
into hot water he went to the Embassy which is close by. They gave him a
run-around. But a different kind of run-around. It was all cooperation. The
main thing is that it landed him in the office of one Paul Keim,
U. C. ‘23, and a friend of Prof. Ryerson. And I in and how!
Here is a man, coming from the campus which authored “The Ugly American” and doing everything the opposite and with official sanction. But no publicity, on nonsense, no press releases. New villages, new building programs and the Egyptian substitute for “forty acres and a mule,” only they are given a choice between a cow and a buffalo.
I have had nothing but excellent coupe ration from Mr. Ferguson, the agricultural attaché, Mr. Ferguson the information officer and about everybody on the Embassy compound. I am planning just those things which fit in with their projected program. It has not been made public. It is as if we had gone underground.
After all these USIS burnings and Vice-Presidents being mobbed, we have come to realize that nations which are 85% agriculturists are just that. We have appealed to the farmers and farm workers and we are working with farmers and farm workers. Not only that, but the University of Cairo and the Agricultural Department of the Central Government are honey-combed with U. C. graduates.
So, after posting this in the morning Sam Lewis in going around in an official car and I am writing this and milling it because I suspect I shall have lots more to write and mail.
In addition to that, Mr. Paul Keim above has copied some of the literature-I got from Riverside so I going over my things and next week bring him more.
You can let the boys on the hill read this too. For you ex-student but continual devotee got into this country as a V.I.P. The Captain gave me a special report and with my Visa, they only looked at my typewriter and transistor radio. The steamship line helped out.
I am very close to the Nile, being behind the Semiramis Hotel. The Nile Milton—which I don’t like—is on the next block. The river bank is landscaped with “hanging gardens.” You can have fine evening walks. It is quite warm here, much about the printed reports, but no humidity, running up to 95° some days. It is, however, easier than Hollywood and much easier than Washington. Today there was a breeze and now, of course, it is expected that the temperature will drop.
My presumable host, Dr. Shawarbi, the chief Agricultural Chemist, is in the States, but I have plenty of instructions Anyhow. My other endeavors may move slowly as college does not open until October 3rd. The Chief American authority on art is a friend of owner of this pension. And already I have the problem if more interviews, contracts and anecdotes than I feel like writing a/c heat.
There are no signs of Russians; the city is typically commercial, the banks seem thriving (one bug shot, whom I met is also away), and the anti-ugly-American work is gaining many friends. Neither Mr. Keim nor I are “optimistic” about the Russians being able to build Assouan dam. Not only that I have my material on salt-water conversion and the Americans are making the badly needed hydrological survey. I think by Sunday I shall have enough material to submit an article for publication either to the C.S. Monitor or San Rafael Independent.
Dear Jane and Vince:
Here I have not been in Egypt one week and my troubles have begun. No, not that kind. Things happen so fast that there is not enough time to record in my diary or it is too hot and then more things happen. Anyhow today I have elected you as “it.”
My theme may be called “Yankee go Home” but resemblance to its use elsewhere stops with the formula. It is as good as any and I am going to convince some of my friends. However there are two pass-words and at the moment I am disinclined to believe you will accept either. But I hope to convert you to one of them; the other “c’est impossible.”
The first pass-word is “As salaam aleikhum” which means “pax vobiscum” in Arabic. By means of it I got a Courtesy Visa and entered this country as a V.I.P. All they looked at was my radio and typewriter and to think what I might have done with Luckies and Chesterfields! I did not count on my own strength, but as they used to say: “Lafollette, I am here.” As I arrived on Labor Day the American offices were closed add I visited Al-Asher University where the password is the above “as-salaam aleikhum.” Here endeth the first lesson.
Now what did I see in Alexandria; Russian ships? There were plenty of ships all right—American, Italian and Spanish. We ran into the Spanish all over which proves the superiority of the Iron Curtain countries—which you can read in the press. Even Fulton Lewis Jr. who thinks he hates Moscow gives them a lot of boosts and I think they need it. Anyhow no Hruskies in Alex and none in the harbor.
Then I reach El-Kariha. I go the Misr Bank. I met President Roushdy who is also head of the Chamber of Commerce. He was away but I met him about the 1st; the banking system did not look as if the reds were taking over. Indeed everything is tending to private ownership. We used to have “40 acres and mule,” and here they are opening up vast new areas—no rules, but a choice between a cow and a buffalo.
After the way Mr. Nixon and Mr. Haggerty got treated the government has awakened to the truth—get rid of the commentator, newspaper man, analysts, radio swashbucklers and get down to work. But first I will give you the awful news and the second pass-word. Deep breath—it is “Oski-wow-wow!“ Oh yes, “Yankee go home” worked. All the Harvard, Yale and Dartmouth men resigned and in their place U. C. Arkansas and Tulsans. No more Yankees. Just other Americans. The top banana is Cal. ‘23. No publicity, no bulletins. The top Agricultural Man in the UAR government—supposed to be infiltrated by Hruskies went to the Muscovite University at Davis, California. And here, before the end of one week the Agricultural Department of the General Government already has had as a guest!
Today I first called on one Hasan L. Kabry who most hold and important job and he turned me over to one Mohamed Rifat who took me to the Cotton section of Cairo U. Cotton is the main cash crop. They use a three-crop-rotation method: Usually corn (Maize) or something else, then a legume, then Cotton. The soil has plenty of Potash but Phosphorus is applied when the Green Manure is turned under. Ca(NO3)2 or NaNO3 the chief fertilizers because the soul is acid. Ammosulph not used; but Thursday I was told Ammonitrate used in some places.
Four seeds are placed in a dibbled hole, no water for 21 days, than about every 12 days. Only long Staples are here. They have been doing much research combining Breeding with engineering tests and so worked out threads improved in fineness, texture, tensile strength, etc. Syria grows only Short Staples and every effort is made to balance the economics.
The great problems are due to diseases and pests. Fusarium wilts. But no Verticillium. In sandy soils there are other difficulties. I shall take up the Pest Problems later. Tomorrow I go to the Testing labs and then to the Breeding Sheds and Greenhouses.
The country between Alexandria and here is lush—especially in contrast with the Indus Valley. I still do not know why Sager Cane is not stressed as a world-important crop because I have seen it grow in many places. There is evidently truck farming because we get fresh greens and cucumbers. But as I am a guest and may be have a while I let each host guide me as he will.
The Americans are making a complete hydrological survey. My Cal. Host and I share very similar views. We are not ever-optimistic about Assouan dam and believe water may be obtained from at least two other sources. The one is underground—here the Egyptian and American reports differ but the former has been made public, the latter is sub rosa and, as I said above, no publicity. Fortunately I am aware of the work of Col. Jarvis and Hussein Bey which is not much but more than most Americans.
I was also fortunate in having one of the bulletins from Riverside being copied and I shall check others because it is sometimes possible to have wisdom when one does have knowledge.
I am behind the Semiramis Hotel which is located between Shepherds and the Nile-Hilton. I don’t like the latter but go there to get the Times and “Time” or other reading matter. But I am also studying Horticulture and American Philosophy. There is a library attached to the Embassy and they not only welcome readers, but the reasons for my study have been highly approved. We don’t think of America as a country of philosophers. I have failed utterly with Lloyd Morain here, but have made excellent contacts with Columbia and Harvard. It is significant that Ford Foundation also selected California, Columbia and Harvard as the most vital universities at the present time.
On the purely selfish side, perhaps, I realize that if the Schloss Estate is over settled favorably, I may be working with Ford and want to look over everything that may grow in that region.
The thermometer is often up to 95° but no humidity and of course, it is gradually receding. It is barely possible that I may send you some literature. I have been getting bulletins and if the quantity becomes too burdensome I will send them to the States to somebody who might be interested. Gavin got a lot of stuff this way from me previously on subjects that interested him.
This is really becoming a land of small farmers. There are many improvements over traditional methods and every worker is learning to use hand-pump spray equipment. Of course I shall know more later.
Samuel L. Lewis
September 14, 1960
I am within a stone’s throw of the Nile but you better not throw any stones here. Still less should one start throwing coins so I am sending you some by grapevine through Ed to Ernie if he is still alive—just to prove I have a memory. But if you have a short memory I do not hold you accountable for failure to pass on these tokens of esteem or just tokens. The one with the hole in it—the “Lady” coin—you filthy man, is worth 1 pilaster. I have not yet tried to price females, leaving that to sailors. There is a half pilaster coin too. The plaster is worth 2.8c on the Wall St. Market, 2.2c in the bank and 2.1c on the open market. I think the brass one is half a pilaster and the copper one I mil, there being 10 mils to a plaster and this arithmetic isn’t worth it.
To be successful here one should have two of those three credentials (a) Know something about Egypt or Islam; (b) Know something about plant materials, especially food crops; (c) know something about the Berkeley Campus. The latter is most important and copy of Hilgardia which I happen to have smuggled in was nearly as good as my passport.
Last Tuesday I went to the embassy which is close by and pretty soon me and the boys got thick. I am thick anyhow but this helped. They sent me to one Paul Keim and we “oskied” together. He is a big shot—behind the scenes, doing village resettlement work. He told me there were California graduates all over the place. “Yankee Go Home” was shouted so all the boys of the Ivy Leagues departed and instead you either find Blue & Gold grads from Berkeley or else from the South, the deep South, sir—Loosseeianna and Ah-khahnsaw and the great State of Teck’s-Ass. What, no Russians? They are supposed to be down (or up) at Assouan, accordingly as you follow the Nile or map.
Paul K. gave me a lot of intros, but meanwhile Mr. Ferguson, the Agriculture attaché at the Embassy got busy and I was over at the Foreign Relations Section, Dept. of Ag., and I guess I don’t rate so high because they gave me a Ford instead of a Cadillac which I had in Tokyo. Anyhow I have been at the University of Cairo every day, cottoning with big boys by which I mean cottoning because that is the “white gold” of Egypt. They chased me to the Plant Pathology Department and while I was there a Horticulturist came in and put priority claims on me and yesterday when I got to the Horticulture Department, they already had my picture (no number on it) and were waiting for me and another Oski and this guy also went to Davis.
You have rounds of drinks but they are coffee of tea or cokes and I don’t take cokes. Then the Floriculture guy took me to one of the big gardens and what do you think I saw? Well I went to East Pakistan in 1956 and said. “What you need are E. globules and T. distichum and they said: “Nerts,” and here in Egypt by the Nile and nigh the desert you not only have E. globules all over the place, but T. distichum, and how! Of course to make it unanimous, they not only have proven you can grow T. distichum here but what do you think I saw in drainage ditches? Cacti. Far be it from me to tell Mr. Nasser how to run his country.
But seriously the plan worked out by Harry Nelson and myself is succeeding. I was given all kinds of problems on Cotton, Sugar Cane, Soy Beans and Tomatoes and consulted my bulletins. Oh, Yes, Peanuts. The latter matter material I found in the Florida and Georgia bulletins and Louisiana supplied the Sugar Cane answers.
I spent some time looking around at trees. I did see Papyrus and some kinds of Lotus as well as Lilies in the pond. Strange to say they have excellent Roses in this warm climate and do not have them nearly so good in Japan. I do not know the reason or secret for it. They have all kinds of pines and trees from South India.
Just at the end of the tree section, you might have guessed: P. crassifolium. In Beirut it was P. tobira. The P. you have with you all the time.
There is also highway planting mostly Casuarina. But it bends in the wind. The Eucs are sometimes trimmed and the wood used. This is what I had suggested for India and Pakistan and maybe somebody will listen now.
There are big hydrological surveys on and as water is discovered or uncovered, the marshlands, the depressions and oases are being utilized. Saturday I am “being taken for a ride” to a distant province—in the North West. I am trying to see Keim Friday because that is the Islamic Sabbath. I have had no day of rest—Saturday and Sundays at the U. I also expect to call on the Japanese embassy Friday, which is between the sections of the American E.
Have not done much touring, feeling that I may be a guest of the government. I am told that will come in time. I have far more introductions than I can use as offices close either at 1 or 2 and that is it for the day excepting that the American library and Tourist offices re-open at 5. Between them you can eat, sleep or play—unless you are a mad man or Englishman and go out in the noon-day sun.
I have not yet looked at much of the local planting. Cassias are most evident, and they graft in order to bring out the best flowering types. There are Jacarandas and of course Palms and Palms and Palms. The Palms include Royal P., Date P., etc., the palms: “shine mister!” But very few baksheesh palms. A few beggars, but you may not know it. I belong to the International Order of Island Schnorrers which gives me the right to beg and to refuse to give hand-outs. This is very valuable. I get a free hair-cut in Beirut and I did not think anybody could beat a Lebanese. It is a long story, which I am tired of writing about.
Bought a transistor radio which comes in handy, but today I bought a local paper. There are several English and French.
I don’t know how I do it, but I get into this country as a V.I.P and have several big shots on my list to see, if I can ever get to that. But I am also waiting for Prof. Creswell who is the authority on everything especially how to avoid cracks, fakers, bunco artists and the sellers of genuine antiques made in 1940.
Now it is breakfast time—not a good meal. Fortunately I get good coffee as soon as I go visiting; very good coffee, too. They invented the coffee break here, and sometimes you have one after another with occasional work in between. Maybe someday I’ll get technical and tall you about the work. Yes, I have seen the latest in grass cutters. But yesterday I saw a book on plants growing in the Sinai desert. And what is foremost; C. dactylon! Even the mosquitoes draw the line somewhere.
September 18, 1960
My dear Florie:
This is my diary entry for today and I am sending a copy to a small group of Muslims in Cleveland. I arose somewhat refreshed, no doubt because there has been a drop in temperature and, of course, I am becoming used to the weather. It is warm and dry, not nearly so enervating as our Eastern seaboard or India and point east, but still too hot to warrant much walking.
If you travel by taxi, they drive fast and you hardly see anything. If you take the bus or car, you are crowded, and in any case, you do not see much. So I essayed a walk which I presume is about four miles each way, going by one set of streets and returning by another.
Without saying I love Cairo. I prefer it to our Eastern cities and to some in India. I would like it better than Los Angeles if it were not so flat. Like Portland, Oregon, it is divided by a river and I have not found any city limits yet. I have not tried to see any historical moments. Nearly all my time has been spent at Cairo University or with different branches of the Government.
Many factors are working for me here. The two outstanding are my interest in Islam and my being a life-member of the University of California Alumni Association. Not only is the top American from Berkeley but more graduates from there are in important Government offices than from any other American University, or, so far as I can see, from all the Iron Curtain countries put together. Every interview is torn by the situation of a grand welcome and a need for me to be touring the States and telling people what I see.
The third element in my position is the type of internal thinking I indulge in. This has made me look somewhat askance at the Assouan project. I am in favor of establishing a Salt Water Conversion station on the Red Sea just as we are putting up along the coast of Southern California and also near Galveston. I am also much intrigued by the American desert reclamation methods of re-discovery of ancient water-course, wells and springs, their analysis and potential use. I am almost ready to write a rough draft of a “Plan for the Nile.” This is stimulated by my reading Louis Bromfield’s works of what he did in Ohio. It is, of course, technical.
Today’s venture was my second to Al-Azhar. They understand pretty well the situation in the United States and I told them that I was in no hurry of a plan of action. My “Saladin” has been read and is being turned over to a Sheikh for evaluation. As President Nasser is going to the U.N. I am not hurrying this either.
The first situation I explained was the rivalry between no less than six Pakistani groups to “convert” English-speaking people. They all ignore each other, and mostly print in poor English. The majority assume Islamic teachings and then try to prove them. Four of these groups are more or less Sunni and two are Ahmadiyya. I placed the Ahmadiyya Prayer book in the Director’s hands for review. I shall return in three on four days for his decision and possibly my instructions in Salat and Nimaz, etc.
I also partly reviewed an article he is having published for English speaking people. My main objection was his long sentences—he told me he likes long sentences, but I told him that people unfamiliar with Islam could not follow them. He accepted this correction.
One of the leaders from Al-Azhar is now in Canada and Dr. Shawarbi is still in the States, but should be back in two weeks. He is supposed to be visiting all the Islamic Centers. I don’t know whether he went to San Francisco or not.
Incidentally Asara left on excellent name, all over. She is considered to be a grand person which, of course, is true.
I took a note over to Al-Azhar Mosque but the attendant speaks English and welcomed me. This made me feel very happy. There are in a sense two Mosques, one being a grand courtyard, surrounded by alcoves. There were many classes in these alcoves and so far as I could see, they have co-education with the boys and girls not particularly different than in our country. I think they are using it largely as a kindergarten or pre-school place.
This seems to be been constricted on the ruins of a church or Greek temple for the pillars were of a decidedly modified Corinthian type. While the Greek pillars may be “noble” they lacked the feeling of the ornamental work above them. These were either in forms of rosettes remarkably like the early Buddhist wheels, or in carvings derived from Qur’anic passages. These, to me, had both beauty and feeling. I made no efforts to take notes and my not having a camera enables me to walk around more than some tourists.
The inner Mosque is, I presume, the famous one. There were a few classes on, entirely of older people. The adults were of all ages, but generally young man or those who have reached the period of retirement. The place was not a congregation of beggars and “bums” which one finds in India and Pakistan. Some of the staff do not like what they saw there, especially around the shrines. As I belong to the Chisti, they told me some of their objections to what they saw. I admit ceremonially and outwardly there is “saint worship” but inwardly there is something else and there are only two ways to convey that “something else.” One is by a visit and the other is by disciplinary instruction.
Al-Azhar is not Rome and the more peripheral the devotees, the more they are apt to depart from the literal methods used here. I do not find extremes in Cairo, or rather the city if not so delineated. In Pakistan one finds some very strict Puritans and they are engaged in narrow Orthodoxy. Well, you have seen it in your apartment so I don’t want to say anything. These people are not making converts so much as trying to supervise those who claim to be Muslims. In the end you get civil wars as in Indonesia, useless, murderous, and Qur’an distantly lays down that a Muslim should never kill another Muslim. I will have no part with these people although personally I get along with them.
The tone here is of high intellectual approach and I am thoroughly in favor of it. I am not looking for saints. I am not looking for noble moral outlooks in others, which are not reflected in my own life, although I certainly here come upon little ignobility. So far as I can see president Nasser did work out a grand revolution, in so many directions that we in American, who have new bothered to study Egypt, will never really discover.
Fortunately I found a new ally, a Harvard graduate who just came to this pension to do research on modern Egyptian history. He fully realizes my gripes and is compelled to do something about them, for that is what he is paid for.
We shall have to go over carefully each facet, of the lack of information in America about the Arab world; the lack of information in America about Islam; the control of Near East teaching by European-born whose presence is—and I can never repeat this too much—a sore spot here as it is in all Asia. Here I am a bull-dog and I shall live and die opposing the intermediation by Europeans—Christians, Jews and non-believers—into the field of Near East and Islamic instruction. We don’t like Chinese teaching American history in China or Poles teaching American history in India; in fact we see that it is not done.
My “undiplomatic” ways of life constantly open now doors for me and I am seeing all kinds of things, but mostly in the technical field to date. Tomorrow I shall try to find an Egyptian versed in both modern science and Sufism. So I am having a grand time despite my gripes.
September 20, 1960
San Francisco, Calif.
My dear Harry:
I have been doing some thinking. Before you challenge I recall the very first lecture I heard you give on this subject and even though you did not exactly say: “Do thou and do likewise,” it might be a good idea sometimes.
The subject is the problem of the Nile. Now I am not so vain as to presume I can offer a “solution” to a large problem. Spoke and Burton were among my early heroes: I read Stanley and later on the romantic work of Emil Indwig. Perhaps a few books in between. I came to a conclusion which may have merits and demerits but have been terrifically stimulated by two books borrowed from the American Library near here.
The first is “Out of the Earth” by Louis Bromfield. Bromfield is one of those writers I came upon in fiction and then turned to his non-fiction (The opposites was true of A. Huxley). My immediate concision is that his philosophy is very similar to your own and certainly he has thought and done where I have merely intuited.
The second is “Theory and Dynamics of Grassland Agriculture.” This book, fortunately, goes into details on Legumes as well as Grasses and on the whole is more informative of them. As one reads—and the author. Jack H. Harland of Oklahoma certainly holds the same view—we need an encyclopedia rather than a few books on Grasses, You may remember I wrote to you what is being done at Kew in this reports.
The Grass work is very technical and I am thankful today I took two courses on Organic Chemistry, enough at least to follow through the work on Plant Pathology and Enzymes, etc. But I am more inserted in the cyclic philosophy of earth replenishment then in specialized scientific work which leaves off much. In fact there are so many basic considerations such as types of seed, storages, the types of sugars, etc., that it has been well worth going over. The angel-devil C. dactylon has to be discussed because the author definitely explained that this is one of the highest starch storing grasses. You may remember I wrote from India that it was the no. 2 Grass in value, but the No. 1 in quantity, the blessing of the farmer, the curse of the gardener.
Both these works emphasize the need of restoration of organic matter to the soil. Now turning to the Nile, I have been opposed to the Assouan Dam for many reasons. One is I think the cost is too much for the Nation and the same money, used in Salt Water conversion plants and in a more complete hydrological survey including chemical analyses of soil and water would be more effective.
In one respect the Nile resembles the Indus. India and Pakistan have just signed an agreement with regard to the waters. On the other hand it resembles the Colorado where a number of States have entered into a pact almost like an international agreement. But there is no such pact concerning the Nile. And it is always possible that Ethiopia may indulge in engineering projects like Colorado, carrying water over a shed into another region where feasible, to open up large tracts. Ethiopia is a land of extreme contrasts between wet and dry regions and she may do something about it.
In the southern part of Sudan there is a region called the Sudd. It is filled with papyrus plants often called “worthless” although yesterday I heard this contradicted. Sudan also has vast deserts though there is some rain in parts. Presumably those deserts, like those of Egypt, have high pH. It came to my mind that it might—just might—be possible to dredge the region, making channels and taking the much and organic matter and putting it on the land. Simple grinders might do the work, or there may be other methods and this would both benefit the river and the land.
Today I visited the Vegetable Experimental Section and took up the soil problem, but briefly. They told me that manure was plentiful and cheap. Grant that. But the pH of manure is certainly higher than that of most or maybe all leaf-molds, etc. And with a high pH, this is only a partial corrective.
The main trees of this region do not follow any pattern. They are F. Bengalensis, S. Babylonia, Euc. sp. and Casuarina. The last two certainly do not have foliage good for leaf-molds. Of course there are plenty of Cassias too but they are a “lower level” and I omit reference to shrubs. There is a lot of pruning and gleaning going on, but no composting.
Next Sunday I am scheduled to go to the Soils Department and will report to you what I find out there. But so far I have not seen the recognition of the Nitrogen or other cycles and complete ignorance of the philosophy propounded in the two books mentioned above, which is pretty close to what I feel must be done.
There is also another deportment dedicated to research on Soil Bacteria. They certainly must be finding out something even though it be that they came to an impasse.
Bromfield shows the difference between the handling of the Missouri—which he considers was done badly—and the Ohio, which he admires. The Missouri again, is much like the Nile, going through warm dry country in the summer. Bromfield advocates up-stream control and that is the only thing I see. Despite the “Arab Bloc,” the Nations have not learned to cooperate and have mutual exchange.
September 21, 1960
My dear Professor Cutright:
Yesterday I spent three hours as a guest at the Central Vegetable Experimental station with Faud Rizk, Ali Azad and Mohammed M. Billah. I am scheduled to call there again Saturday.
The conversation started with what proved to be a meet happy example of “agricultural philosophy.” I am to a great extent indebted to my friend and mentor, Harry Nelson, Greenhouse, City College, San Francisco, who is known to your colleagues at Columbus. He has long been advocating the use of the Catalina Cherry, both as a potential fruit crop and even better as a source of cross breeding.
It is adapted to warm dry places and is used in Southern California as an ornamental and safeguard again erosion; e.g., Griffith park, Los Angeles. There is a place in San Francisco where the Federal, State and City Park systems meet and there is some overlapping (or excellent neglect) where there is a grove of these trees which fruit heavily. The first things to note is that they fruit late in the year, even as late as October in San Francisco which has its warm season late in the year. They have very large stones and primps that is one reason why they have not become a popular fruit crop. If picked at the right time they are very sweet, but if too late and the birds do not get them, they may rot.
As a cocked fruit they taste nicer than more Cherries, being exceedingly palatable and so sweet they do not require much sugar. They have a slightly more pruney flavor than other Cherries. In any case they are neglected.
I spoke to the first two gentlemen about the advisability of bringing this tree here both as an ornamental and fruit tree. It seems much more ecologically fitted than some I have seen, does not need much care and, if there is even to be a program of leaf composting would be far more suitable than the trees one does see: Eucalyptus, Casuarinas, S. Babylonia, Pines.
Well that is exactly what they do with the Solanaceae. They have a native S. torvum which grows wild. They graft on it Eggplant and Peppers. The former does excellently well, in view of what is going to be said later. They also have developed a perennial Tomato and use it for Potato experiments. Despite the fact that the office is filled with Potato pictures and literature, I did not see any growing here, nor did I bring up the question. There is plenty of K available for this crop, in forms not suitable for some others which are otherwise normal to the weather.
Mr. Azad, who took me around, conducts the Sweet Potato experiments. Much of this is done in what we should call giant Cold Frames. They are almost entirely of glass, all except cement foundations. There are several kinds of Cold Frame but the smaller outfitted to become Greenhouses in the winter. The experiments are based on breeding the crossing and timing of setting seed so they might ascertain periods of harvesting etc. The soil used is 2/3 Clay and Loam and 1/3 Sand, with some feeding to enrich it.
Incidentally the Morning Glory (Ipomoea) does wonderfully well here, setting up contrast color to Bougainvillea, etc. I have not seen many Sweet Potatoes on the market or menu, but the space given to them and the detailed research opens up possibilities.
Mr. Azad also showed me Dasheon and Tapioca to which I gave little attention but this is a first visit. Besides I am trying to emphasize non-starch vegetables.
I gave him the seeds, which your colleges kindly furnished me. He has a Tomato man just as he, Azad, is the Sweet Potato man. The colleague went to work at once and was also thankful for the printed sheet. They are badly in need of Wilt Resistance types.
At the station they also have set up a department for filling and cross-filling take care both of the projects and the results of breeding. We went into the field where the great work is being done on Cabbage. The idea is to develop strains that will stand all local forms of weather. They even have crosses. From a later conversation I think Mr. Billah, whose name I mentioned above, must be the Cabbage men. I shall find out later.
Corn has not been very successful. I think this is due to the reasons. One is that the soil has a high pH and P is locked up and unavailable. The other is the tremendous prevalence of the Cabbage moth which made the fields look very poor. The ground around the station seemed to be fairly pest free, but not the fields. I am going to look up my catalogs to see what I can find. I turned all my Cotton pest folders over to their main Station. But I am inclined to believe your program will prove efficacious and I am going to ask them to contact you.
One of the things, perhaps the things I want most is international Horticultural exchange. I was glad to get the main gripe I hold and that is, instead of sending newspaper men out, we should even subsidize retired farmers and have them visit the Asian countries. I omit Africa on account of the weather, not because of the race problem. In “The Ugly American” the lament is for linguistic communication. I believe “down to earth” communication a thousand times better.
Labor is cheap. They use mostly an Italian form of hoe. They also use anima manures in great quantity. This conditions the soil but does not reduce the pH as leaf molds night.
Here again it was the staff that brought up the pest problem and that is the main reason I write. The Central Printing Office has a complete Entomological Catalog. I may inquire later about it and other publications. The spring program seems to depend upon specifics and if followed would require the use of a large number of spray materials during a season. This would mean a cooperative or village community program, into which I may inquire later.
Samuel L. Lewis
September 21, 1960
Your letter of the 15th arrived yesterday and this will be mailed in the morning. I am glad to check on the timing. There are no aerograms here so one has to choose between straight air-mail and sea-mail. This letter today is, in a sense, my diary record.
There is considerable news about air-lines. There are innumerable offices here. The Czechoslovak line advertises big but the TWA still bigger. I am able to walk around sections of the City without trouble, but am slow in the use of trams or busses. They cost little but are crowded and you see nothing when you are in them.
I can understand the difficulties of getting started in the travel bureau business. New York City is full of them. Here one is drawn either to the airlines or well-known people like Lloyds and American Express. But there are some agencies. I guess, for local citizens. The trouble in the business here is that your profits often depend on the number of languages you speak.
The American Embassy has been very cooperative with me. I also take books from their library, mostly on Horticulture. About half my mornings are spent with the technicians in this field. I spent some time with George Scanlon at the American University. He is the contact man on Islamic culture, especially Art. But by agreement I am to wait for one Dr. George Creswell, who is considered by all hands to be the A-L expert. I then called on the head of the University Library, one Mahmud Shenecti.
I told Scanlon I differed from the “experts” on Sufism because despite their statements, and often arrogant statements, I had met Sufis in high places. He conceded that this might be true of further Asia but was not true here. But when I was talking with Shenecti he brought up the name of Abdul Kadir-i-Gilani and we found ourselves in complete agreement.
I also met another Sufi yesterday at the Vegetable Experimental station. He is Mohammed M. Billah. I am going to take some of my poetry, and perhaps other writing when I go there again which will be Saturday. Actually the politicians seem to be cool toward Sufism, the scientists quite warm.
Monday I picked up my Visa for Pakistan. It is multiple entry good for four years and subject to renewal. The clerk was rather haughty and it was evident to me that he was a Parsi although I did into call it to his face. I simply wrote a letter to the Consul General in San Francisco, sent a copy to the Ambassador with a note, setting forth some of my credentials—which I can assure you are top-notch. I received an emergency call from our own Embassy and the clerk stood at attention and saluted when he gave me the Visa. I told the hotel owner I did not know whether to get angry or laugh and in a sense still do not. When I have been meek officials have often been haughty and when I show credentials, they are liable to go to be other extreme, which is not much better.
The Syrian and Indian embassies are near the Pakistani, but I did not find the former. Many of them are not on the map where designed, but generally nearby. The Syrian Embassy (on the map) proved to be that of Ghana, and the Indian Embassy was on the same street as printed but not the same block or same side. As it was a dead and street I could not help finding it—there was no other way to go to get out.
I had a long talk with the Travel Secretary who suggested I get in touch with the Tourist Bureau and have them map my trip. If it is too hot, I may enter at Amritsar and go to Kashmir, back to Amritsar and cross Northern India—Amritsar, Delhi, Aligarh, Lucknow, Benares, Paatna. Calcutta.
The alternative would be by ship form Karachi be Bombay and cover Bombay, Hyderabad, Mysore and Malabar, including my spiritual headquarters at a place called Kanhangad. If I take that route first I would stop at Ajmir again on the way north. But if I run to Calcutta, I would go to Agra and vicinity on the way south. I am presuming the Northern visit first, and then leaving by Bombay to Ceylon, but if I visit the South first I may cover Ceylon on a side trip and go from Calcutta to Chittagong to Malayan points form that side.
I went to another office downtown to see the cultural attaché. He is away with an art exhibit at Alexandria. He has a library something like that in San Francisco. I can use the place as a reading room. With the present state of affairs in the world I trust the Indian newspaper more than those of most lands.
So far there has been nothing but adventure and cordiality. I expect to go the Al-Azhar again tomorrow. I saw the historical Mosque earlier in the week. Although I got a pass when I reached the gates a man said to me in English: “We always welcome American Muslims just like that.”
There is a side of Sufism, which is deeper than Psychic Research. Mrs. Garret and the Cayce Foundation have both rejected tentative papers on the subject. That is why I am for a more serious and impersonal research group which will go into phenomena, not personalities. I have been asked again and again to go the some holy places here and it is quite possible that there will be “emanations of baraka” there, to which I am sensitive. If so I shall communicate in detail either directly or by sending a carbon copy.
I have had no regular guide, but one young man here at the pension and another at the University have put themselves at my services. I told the latter I had no paying job excepting I would like to take him to dinner, he selecting the restaurants. He was pleased with that offer. I did not find the Diners’ Club headquarters here but will send them a letter as their places are not listed for UAR They have a good list for Lebanon.
I have not heard from either Gavin Arthur or the Bank of American or from Clementina St. Of course my moneys should be accumulating and there is no worry, but I have to pay for my fare to Karachi and would prefer to use my home bank check, instead of cheques. I do have some Pakistani rupees and also moneys there so there is no worry on that account, just uncertainty. And I can’t even make out an income tax declaration without such reports.
Samuel L. Lewis
September 25, 1960
My dear Florie:
Yesterday I visited the Embassy again and also strolled to the Japanese Embassy to see the cultural attaché. My relations with the Americans are very cordial although I have run into one off-key note. At the University they defended Von Grünebaum whom I accused because he said the downfall of Islam was due to the refusal of Sufis to take part in the government. I pointed out the large number I had met elsewhere. They answered, “Yes, elsewhere.” The hotel owner reaffirmed this position.
But the other day my temporary host, Fouad Fisk said, “I have a grand surprise for you, another member of tarik,” which is to say, the esoteric path. He is Mohammed M. Billah and a member of the Shadilya Order. Today we discussed Sufism both at length and deeply because Ali Ezed who is supposed to be conducting me around, was called out of the office constantly. Meanwhile the grapevine is working for me and tomorrow evening I have my first invitation to an Egyptian home from one Dr. Mustapha Kemal Ahmed. He has been to the States for Horticulture training and is listed in the phone book as one of the top advisors in this field. But he also wants to see me because of my interest in Islam.
When you arrive at an office you wait for tea or coffee and may discuss religion or anything else but business. This means slow progress but satisfactory personal impressions and responses. When I receive a problem, however, I go to work on it and I often have rather technical typing to do. That is what I am here for and that is what people are finding out—and liking.
I have not yet been able to meet Abdul Ruzzak Nophal who is the top scientist here, or Dr. Turki, of the Research Institute, whom I understand went to the University of California. Tuesday morning I am to go to the Chamber of Commerce and I have to squeeze in the Indian cultural attaché and Al-Azhar somehow, but I think I can make the latter Wednesday, when I have other business too.
Today Mohammed M. Billah told me that there are lots of Sufis around, chiefly Shadilyas whom I want to meet and Rifa’i. The latter are the “howling Dervishes” and they perform all those phenomena which we attach to the term fakir and which have wrongly been thrown at the Hindus who are not so adept, I believe, in either mysticism or magic, though they get the name for it. I do not wish to devaluate the Hindus. I wish to elevate the Muslims, both esoteric and esoteric and exoteric and think I can do it now, with the backing and authorization I am receiving. The end of the Academy and the temporary tragedy of the Islamic Center will clear the path for proper instruction. I do not have to look down or at those persons who would not permit me to speak, or who gave excuses for strange politics—more of which worked because they were not God’s will…. I wish you were with me this morning when we could talk and talk openly on things which were hushed up in San Francisco. Why? Never mind that, it is only necessary to accentuate the positive.
The diary note for today is short. Went to the Agricultural section of the Embassy where I had very good reports. They understand thoroughly here what I am doing.
At 11 o’clock went to the Chamber of Commerce and met Abdel Aziz Zohdy. He launched into politics and was so long and vehement we never did get down to business.
By the time he was through a reporter came in from “Akhbar” or Akhbar el-Yawm” which means Daily News or something like that and attention was turned to me. We had an interview and later on the reporter will call at my hotel and give me a long interview and take my picture for an article. I shall then get the article and send it to Mr. Mehdy in San Francisco and Mr. Schwell in New York and a few extras for the Bay Region. Shall let you know later.
This afternoon went to the Tourist Information Office. It was a regular Puck visit. “How can I go to Syria?” “You can get the information across the street.” “How can I visit Karnak?” “You can got the information across the street. That is about all I got. Absolutely nothing for Cairo, only for the Fayum; nothing for Assouan even.
So I went across the street. They can arrange my plane flight; and also my train trip south but not any hotel. The travel bureau I like tell you about hotels. I got for more information in the U.S. but don’t think I carried all the bulletins with me. They had all the dope. It is available, but the girl at the Information Office gave me nothing but negatives. Anyhow if I go to Damascus I must book long ahead. But if I visit the temples 24 hours notice is enough.
In a few moments I shall have the radio broadcast in English of Nasser’s address. Then I shall start some very heavy writing.
September 27, 1960
My dear Jack:
I have just had an experience which is something like a man who has applied for a permit to visit the children’s playground and is given a pass to the big league ball grounds; naturally he does not now care whether he gets the permit or not. For so far as scientific investigation the jackpot has hit me.
I have been to the national Research Office of the Central Government. There is a Dr. Turki in charge and I think he also went to the University of California. I have reported previously that I not only saw Spanish ships in the harbor but that Nasser met France. I have previously reported that there is more than something in the wind. Today I got direct picture myself at the top level Doors are being opened here for research scientists and they are not iron curtain country people. Technical men are supposed be have laboratory experience and a good knowledge of either French or German. The conversation was all the more interesting because the persons immediately involved were Hollanders.
I started off this morning by visiting the Embassy and the Vegetable Research Center. I am doing top technical research work mostly in literature. Or course if I had to demonstrate with equipment I should probably do that, too. I have found that my work is being appreciated by both the Americans and Egyptians. This is after a long hard struggle, Jack, but I have just received an acknowledgement from the Alumni association of the University of California thanking me for my last report; so far as I can tell the next one will be a humdinger, or if keep quiet until I return, I may even be given a banquet.
I was told that the best Agricultural Research Station was that at Beirut at the American College there; I think I wrote you I can confirm this. But what I am seeing now is the materialization of a dream. I did not stay long with Dr. Turki. He gave me an overall shirt of the Research Centre and turned me over to Ahmed Kabash who is in charge of all the documents. I was shown the library, the microfiche department, and a number of associated sections. I must say by that time I was rather tired. I have then the literature with me purposely and have gone over it. What I have found out confirms what I have been saying. I cannot compel a metaphysical world to accept faster. I am going to write up some of these things for the C. S. Monitor. I don’t know how much they will print them but I shall certainly send a copy of my document to the World Affairs Council on Powell St. I have met three charts and these bear out my previous contentions:
Molecular & Atom Physics Nuclear Physics Soil Science
French 2 2 10
German 1 1 3
English 12 1 26
American 16 13 40
Russians 31 13 -
Misc. 3 9 9
Miss. Iron Curtain 1 - 1
Please note that the Russians seem far ahead in Molecular and Atomic Physics. But that we are even in Nuclear Physics. I thought it might be the other way around. What is significant is the few contributions of the Germans. Actually eight of the nine “Miscellaneous” in Nuclear Physics are Italian, the other being Japanese. The miscellaneous in Soil Science are manly all Hindus or Muslims—one can’t tell the country from their names. But I was amazed to find not a single Russian document on Soil science. There was one from Poland. This definitely implements what I noticed in Ohio, that we are far ahead of Russia in this field. I can’t go through the catalogs checking on each nationality in each science, although I supposes it might be a nice game on shipboard, or when I have nothing I want to do.
There is an open display of magazines on a table, where they are left for two weeks prior to filing. The ones I saw from Russia were all on Physics. In checking on Organic Chemistry the United States was ahead by Russia, India and Italy all had plenty. I did not count.
This document will smash now and for all the truth or untruth of statements made as to who is leading in “sciences.” Nobody leads—but contributions are received here from all over the world. I am far more appalled at the paucity of German contributions than the quantity from Russia, India or Italy.
I later went over the book here on Textiles and was surprised that in the two parts of the book, the first dedicated to looms and machines shows the Japanese decidedly in first place, with for practical purposes the Germans far behind, then followed the United States and way behind France. Other nothings contributed little or nothing.
In the section devoted to yarns, etc., Germany decidedly led, followed by the United States and a number of other nations also contributed, the Japanese among them but far behind. I am not going to write anything on the leadership in science and technology, but this “neutral” observation point with materials from all parts of the earth is an excellent one.
It is to be noticed that the Spanish speaking world in toto has given practically nothing and I do not think this is because they do not welcome Spanish documents, but that this world as whole does not lead in many sciences.
Samuel L. Lewis
September 28, 1960
Diary entry for the day sent jointly to Willie Wise and William Gaskin.
This day I saw much of Cairo on feet. I was taken by a hotel clerk who likes to walk so we walked. I have now been in this city the better part of the month, and have not gone out its environs. I shall report on the day.
We walked the whole length of the town, excepting for a short trolley ride to the oldest Mosque here, that of Amr ibn al-As. It was probably built on a Christian Church. I had already been to Al-Azhar and noticed what I humorously the “pillars of Islam” which are Corinthian and more than five, no matter what the theologians say. The Mosque of Amr ibn al-As covers a large courtyard—now deserted—and inner courts which were being used by women in the morning. Most of the pillars are Corinthian but some are Ionic and a few a modified type showing distinctly Egyptian influences This, of course, was before the rise of distinctly Islam art..
Old Cairo contains the poorest part of town but it is surprisingly small in comparison with other districts. Alms clearance is going on and there are much vaster sections with apartment houses of modern types. What interested me here were the kilns. They were for pottery and tiles, and some pottery was being glazed, but it was not the potters’ section, it was the kiln section. Different kilns are used by potters and tilers. Many pots are used for plants, the others for water carrying or vases. There were no others in evidence at this time, but it was a production, not a merchandising area.
We walked a long distance North East to the Mosque of Ahmad ibn Tulun He was the first independent Islamic ruler of Egypt. This Mosque is very large and was closed at the time. It shows a distinctly advanced degree of workmanship and the preservation of sculptured form with a high detail of exactitude in reproduction. In general I found that the brick making had reached a high development with a slight glaze on, not too much to spoil the brick nature, but enough to take away the roughness.
We next went to the Asultana Hasan Mosque which shows an advanced Islamic art and was very busy with devotees. The same principle held for the Zayyaid Hussein where the bones of the grandson of the Prophet are buried. There is a constant movement of pilgrims going on and both Qur’an reading and study. There is no worship hour between early morning and after 2 in the afternoon.
What I have seen in the Mosque so far include a high degree of lattice work, non-objective formations, excellent work on inner doors and vaults—the higher up the finer the art and it is wonderful because these men most have worked on ladders and scaffolds. The inner courts were not lit up although all the places are now equipped for electricity. This is used first for fans and some air conditioning and only lighting when necessary, so it was hard for students to read. I noticed here that one devotee did not even go in but chanted in the doorway where it was light. I found the chanting very beautiful.
The bazaars near Al-Azhar, I am told, sell at much cheaper rates those “downtown” which in turn sell at much cheaper rates than those in or near the hotels—which includes this place, just adjacent to the grand hotels. Tomorrow I am going with one of the managers to visit her favorite bazaar. She is under financial obligations to me but I would take no money—which was most agreeable to her too.
End of diary note.
October 2, 1960
San Francisco, Calif.
My dear friend:
I am sending you my diary entry at this time because it contains a number of items which will no doubt be of interest to you. I have already written that the very difficulty I met here turned into an affair of honour, and that the clerk must have been disciplined in that he stood at attention while I was there and gave me a salute. As he did not give the Islamic greeting and behaved so much life certain Parsis I have met in the past, I could understand and am much more enchanted with the willingness of the Pakistani government to give equal rights to all its citizens than any problem I may have met along this line.
I am now not only busy looking into the agricultural and scientific problem by this region, I am receiving full cooperation. I shall spare details excepting in so far as they concern Pakistan. Both Egyptians and Americas highly command my study of this region in order to obtain information and ideas which may be applied in the Indus Valley. The parallels are many.
When it comes to water supply, I think your country has been very wise and the Egyptians would be well to cooperate with Sudan, a presumably friendly country which they have tended to ignore, while both the Indian officials and your esteemed President have had engineering if not political foresight. Do not be surprised that by the end of the century you may be ahead of this region.
The Americans here—and also now I have found some Egyptians—have made a pretty through pretty thorough Petrological and Soil survey which gives them ideas for soil correction and proper crops. I am holding my basic literature for release in Pakistan. I have been now twice to the National Research Centre which gives one ideas both for a central institution and for more specific methods with dealing with specific scientific problems.
Not only do both Americans and Egyptians command what I am doing but I find among the common people Pakistan is very popular here. The differences, if they exist, are at the top levels. The common Arab seems to seek a hero to worship or follow and their psychological reaction to President Ayub is practically identical with that toward President Nasser, although this may never get into the news.
I am making copious notes and reports which I shall have in my diary and to place before Mr. A. A. Cheema of the Central Agricultural Bureau if he be still in Karachi when I get there, or to take to ‘pindi which can so easily be reached from Abbottabad.
Aside from general soil and crop problems I have been given some Sugar problems and whether the answers are forthcoming or not, they will benefit Pakistan. Not only that, I shall certainly urge missions to come here and some students to visit this region.
I have benefited tremendously in the scientific and agricultural ventures because of my interests in Islam and because of my connection with the University of California. This has added to zeal on both sides and utmost cordiality. The result is that I am actually functioning at a higher level than ever before.
It is universally recognized that there must be a change in the whole instruction concerning Islamic history and Islamic philosophy in the United States. Names have been named here when you know persons who have or have had abundant influence in California but who are anathema either to the American Foreign Service or the Islamic leaders here or both; mostly to both. I am therefor going to be in conference with men of both Arabian and American allegiance to see what can be done to correct this. My personal history is slightly to the side here for I should have liked to have “majored” in Mogul history. I was unable to open any doors.
I have also named persons in other parts of the United States who give out false or misleading teachings about Islamic culture and who grant degrees. I have especially pointed out Von Grünebaum in Chicago with his selection of the Sufis as the scapegoats. Two weeks ago I was told I would be in for a grand surprise and met one M.M. Billah who is a leading scientist here and a member of the Shahili Turik. It was love at first sight and has been ever since. Actually it is very difficult to delineate between “orthodoxy” and “Sufism” in the lives, not of the poor, ignorant and superstitious, but in the lives of the most educated and enlightened people here. I meet with them occasionally socially, often professionally.
Yesterday Mr. Billah said that he would like me to accompany him on the birthday of the original Syed Hussein, the Prophet’s grandson. His tomb is here in a Mosque which I have visited. There will be a gathering of dervishes from all over the Near East. And, praise be to Allah, our birthdays fall on the same date. I am looking forward to this occasion like a child to a great party.
Last week I visited most of the historic Mosques. It is difficult to write much at the first visit because some of them are architectural monuments, some quite artistic and others must be distinguished by their inner atmosphere of what to say, is sanctity. I have heard some chanting almost up to the level I heard at Ajmir. I called my companion’s attention to the difference between the singing of the devotee and that on the radio. He had not noticed it before. Sometimes I wish I had a tape recorder with me but again, one must not interfere with the connection between the devotee and Allah.
My visit calls for a temporary 4-year period in Pakistan, subject to the authorities. Inasmuch as I should be speaking in many universities I cannot gauge the time and I want to visit the farm of Mr. Jamshyd Khan at Mardan and we shall have lots to discuss, too. Today I feel much more self-assured and even capable of performance.
Dr. Cromwell should be here any day now. He is the authority on Islamic Art. This is another venture I am undertaking in joint cooperation with friends in San Francisco and with Punjabi University. I write fairly regularly to my friend, Mrs. Florie Leonard, which is about all I can do. Anyhow everything is turning out fine.
My dear Florie:
I have failed, in the midst of other activities, to keep up a diary. Things happen which are of no record, or are of import. Yesterday I had a big disappointment and then the opposite.
The disappointment is that after being here one month I have gotten absolutely nothing out of Al-Azhar. I do not like to complain. I went there the first place, the first day. I have been given hospitality and the best coffee imaginable. Excellent tea, fine feeling, but on the intellectual plane absolutely nothing. I do not understand this but I find it is partly true of others too. How can we bring teachings to the U.S. if nothing is done? Everybody cries to heaven, or hell, that we the Americans are unfair and then when we want to be fair, or to take their side, what happens?
It is not that. I have turned down several people who wanted to help me because I wish to work with authorities. Or again, I have had the vision of a Murshid and reported it and it may be that he is the one who is going to give me exoteric as well as esoteric instructions.
I left Al-Azhar at 10:15 yesterday morning and then things happened the other way. I met Mr. Pande, cultural attaché at the Indian Consulate. He invited me to meet Prof. Chandrasekhar who spoke last night. Dr. Chandrasekhar is perhaps the best demographer on earth and he specializes in population problems and their solution and more in their solution then their problems. He gave one of the most rousing talks I have ever heard and was well received by the intellectual elite. The people here are willing to learn and this is a man to teach them.
He was very pleased that I remembered his talk in Berkeley. But he is one of the men on earth that I definitely respect and in a sense follow. If you have time or occasion can you telephone the Moraines (Lloyd or Mary) and tell them that Sam Lewis has met Dr. Chandrasekhar in Cairo. Do not say much. I have known Lloyd since his early boyhood, he was originally a protégé of Vocha Fiske who is, perhaps, my closest confidante, we seeing eye to eye upon tremendous areas of science, art, politics, economics, religion and mysticism—in other words everything. But Lloyd has been successful and judges now outwardly not inwardly. I could have been of great help to him here but twice in my life had to re-arrange my program because he would not accept my finding, rejections always a priori .Then he did come to some of my lectures, to my amazement, just before I left. He does not get me at all because doors open and rapidly before me.
Next I have been permitted to take on books from their library which is excellent and am reading Outlines of Islamic Culture by A.M.A. Shustery which is the best work philosophically and theologically I have ever seen but filled with very bad and very inconsequential history, particularly in the foot-notes. In other words, the text is marvelous and I do not know who wrote the foot-notes which are encyclopedic and not pertinent, like diatribes on Emperor Nero or Theodosius etc.
I am reading the sections on Sufism, which are informative and have glanced at other sections which are informative—on Sufism—but also on other subjects. Literarily it has faults, but the subject matter is excellent.
It has long sections on Hujwiri, Ibn l‘Arabi and others and full of meat. In fact the book is meaty all the way through. It has by far the best material on the relation between Sufism and Vedanta I have ever seen, and constant and mostly excellent parallels between Indian scriptures and Islamic teachings.
The written is one A. M. A. Shustery which is obviously Iranian and he was a teacher of Iranian. His source materials from Iran are the first I have ever come upon and agree with has been told here. The book was published in Mysore.
Mere important perhaps was the news that the next Ambassador from India is Mr. Hussein who was Consul-General of India in San Francisco years ago. He used to go be Minte’s on Castro St. and Asara and others know him will. As we have exchanged confidences in the past, his coming here is a strong of great fortune, or blessing. His father was Sufi and he is one of the few men on earth who knows what I am doing.
This morning I go first to the American Cultural Attaché with a long program. I have succeeded in acting as liaison between him and Mr. Pande, the Indian. I am going ever many subject but slowly, and this includes the teaching of Islamic culture in the U.S. At 10 o’clock I go to the Bureau of Information and over my whole program.
My bill here for the month was less than I expected and I also go to the bank and get £ Egyptian. Tomorrow I may go to Al-Azhar, and as I take a holiday, Thursday back to the National Research Centre and meanwhile I have a lot of hard work to do here with my course materials.
Nor have I made my reports though again, I can do this tomorrow. I am finding out some wonderful things and if I do have to face any Israeli on the platform I think I am going to give the audience some shocks.
This morning I had a strong meditation on this subject of the need to get back to religion: a. Judaism has become too ethnocentric, b. Christianity has become too egocentric, Islam remains theocentric and only a theocentric religion is real religion. I don’t like controversies but my discipline is to accept what comes to me in meditation.
16, Sharia Zemal ed Din Salah
Kasr El Dubara,
October 10, 1960
Quazi Mehay Allum
A 4, Meena Bazar,
My dear Brother:
I am greeting you for a very special reason and ask that you share this letter with our wonderful teacher Mellana A. Ghafour and all the brethren. I am writing to you for this purpose for within two weeks I should be sending in a long and important report to Ghulam M. Ahmed at Chittagong. The report I make to him will be for publication but this is what we call a “preview.”
I am by Grace of Allah having the most wonderful time in this city. It is very hard for me to complain. Ever since arrival here I have had nothing but utmost corporation from both Americans and citizens of the UAR My whole life is now concentrated on how to bring these peoples closer together, in part of a broader purpose to bring many peoples a together.
At the lowest level you may not understand how little Islamic teachings are offered in the United States. Ninety-Percent of the teaching is done by foreigners who are neither Muslims, nor, of course, Americans. Many of them are Jewish and while not all of the Jewish people are Zionists, the non-Jewish people, whether Christian or unbelievers are often more Zionist than the Jews. Strange to say the best among them are often missionaries who have some regard for the Prophet though they do not accepts his faith.
Then there is little study of the history of Islam and still less of the history of this region. The result is a complete lack of understanding of points of view accepted here. One does not have to agree with President Nasser but one cannot even honestly disagree if the has not the facts.
The next thing is the untouched field of bringing the peoples together through common exchanges of arts and literature. Here there is a more friendly feeling. Part of this is due to the fact that here Americans, not Europeans, are the teachers. They are more open-hearted and open-minded. Besides there is a great movement in the United States in what is called “non-objective art,” which is quite close in feeling and spirit to much of Islamic art.
One is terrifically impressed by the great social changes made by President Nasser. Those of us who know about the French Revolution which took place in 1789 or the great outbreaks of 1848 can hardly realize what greater changes were made here with very little loss of life. These changes have not been reassured and one reason is of their very magnitude. And whether one turns to politics or sociology or agricultural reform or science, one is well aware of it.
I have obtained my visa but do not know when I shall go to West Pakistan. I am the guest of the National Science Centre for research, the Information Bureau which is planning my future lectures, Al-Azhar, and the American Embassy so I am busy every day. Praise to Allah. I have seen nothing of ancient Egypt.
On top of the lack of knowledge of Islam in the United States, there is much confusion among the so-called Muslims. Many want to teach without study and many groups ignore each other. In fast while the Kadianis and Lahore Ahmadiyyas show some coordination, the Sunnis often have separate establishments, each going its own way and all crying because of the low state of Islam. I have therefore reported to Al-Azhar and next week begin some intense training, inshallah.
As I work mostly with the scientists I hope to tell about what they are doing when I arrive in Pakistan, beginning at Karachi. I also hope to give some talks on what is going on here and especially study the changes in Nile economics so that the Indus may benefit. This is a long and complicated story.
The weeks ago I met Mohammed Murtaz Billah, who is a follower of the Shadhili tarik. We understood each other from the first glance and I feel he is my dearest friend here. There will be a gathering of many tariks in a short while. I hope to meet and greet them and report in full to Chittagong.
While I have not seen anything of ancient Egypt I have taken long walks here and visited some of the most ancient and also the most holy Mosques. I am studying them first for artistic reason, and second for atmosphere. I have heard some very spiritual music, second only to what I have heard at Ajmir.
My intention is to Damascus later for a short visit but this depends in part on the Information Bureau.
I have also been blessed with a vision which seems to indicate I shall meet a teacher of the Rifa’i Order. They have a mosque which I have not visited. At least once a week I walk all across this city from Al-Azhar. This has been a most interesting place on account of its historical significance. And now I have begun an intense study of the art of this region. This is partly so I can report to and speak at Lahore. I am gathering materials just for Lahore and California as I have no funds to do more than that, although at the moment Allah, to whom be all Praise, seems to be providing for my wants in every direction.
If you meet anybody from Dacca University, please tell them that Mr. Claude Calvin sends greetings. He enjoyed your city very much and tells me he has many friends there. He is one of my two chief American hosts here. We also received a Mr. Dan Smith who recently arrived from Karachi and is quite acquainted with my earlier work in West Pakistan.
My greeting to all the brethren. My schedule and itinerary are in the hands of Allah but now all is well.
Samuel L. Lewis
Ahmed Murad Chisti
October 11, 1960
My dear Rudolph:
This is my diary note for today and I will begin with the afternoon which will interest you most. I went with the manager to a Jewish merchant in the bazaar in the Eastern part of the city near Al-Azhar and Syedna Hussein Mosques which are two of the most important buildings here.
I looked over a number of things and only purchased a scarab wrist bracelet for my friend, Dr. Baker, who gave me the money. There will be trouble locating ancient scarabs and there is almost as much trouble in shipping any mounted in silver and gold so these will have to be sent from Pakistan.
I also saw a number of uncut and some cut stones from the Sinai Peninsula which I intend to send to my friend Seth wood, in Sausalito. I also saw some prayer beads which I am taking, for the most part, to Pakistan.
I went over the shop but not too carefully. I saw one copper piece, Nefertiti, which I intend to send to my friend, Mrs. Magana Baptiste, but which, for practical purposes, would be sent in packages to you for display. A secondary reason is that on my next visit the merchant will show me the coppersmiths and silversmiths at work, something in which I am interested.
I am glad to get the report on gold for we previously visited the gold bazaar. You can get “genuine” gold with from 14K-24K and “honest” statements. But with this warning I am off because, I don’t want to pack stuff with me and have complications. .
The first thing I am going to get is a blue dish, which is from the Mameluk period so it can be compared or contrasted with other blue pieces you have. This is undoubtedly cobalt blue but put on rather heavy on some pieces, so that it is dark. It would be a good contrast piece. It is the only thing that costs much.
The metal things I saw were so inexpensive we agreed that the packaging would not be worth it unless I bought several and there is no use sending things on unless they are somewhat varied. I do not know whether I shall leave before December and the later the time of purchase the more money I can release. But for $25 I can send you quite a few things. The question is after the metal and dish, what is there to get? And I did not go into that at all…. They tell me it would take at least four weeks for goods to reach you and I would have everything marked, “For a museum, display purpose only.”
At this moment everything in my life has struck a high note. I am getting full cooperation from the Embassy and from the UAR government in all my efforts. These cover so many fields of endeavor; I do not wish to relate them now.
The United states Cultural Center has just put on a series on Modern Art by one Mr. Beuer of Chicago who is very well informed and the husband of one of our best artists. Tonight begin the first readings on Contemporary Drama.
I was not able to complete my letter the other day. I am saying: “An adventure a day keeps the doldrums away.” If I do not have an adventure, or rather more than one, it is because of the heat. The last few days it has reached successfully over 95, although it gets below 70 at night. This has delayed indefinitely any possible visit to Karnak and Luxor.
I now have and am getting more invitations to museums but have had no days off. Every morning is in conferences, with scientists, literati and the Information Bureau. I am learning about almost every aspect of contemporary life and culture, taking me far a field and giving me opportunities. The programs worked out with both the Egyptians and Americans will give me many opportunities in the presentation and exchange of cultures.
On top of that the Indian situation is becoming complex. This pension is the rendezvous for these people and I have piles of addresses both of persons and institutions to call on if I can reach their respective parts of the country. This is being further complicated that Mr. Hussein, who was once Consul-General for India in San Francisco has been appointed Ambassador here and is expected to arrive in about two weeks.
Then I received a letter from India from a man who has some saris ready for shipment. I made a deal with him, purchasing a transistor tape recorder and he is to pay in art goods and saris. I wanted the art goods either for you or for display with Martin Rosenblatt. So I am sending for two saris for here and the others may go to Magaña Baptiste because my women relatives don’t take me seriously—it’s always that way anyhow.
I shall probably send Bill or you copies of my diaries when I visit museums or historical places, but I am going to be slow in purchasing postal cards. I have already written that the Information Bureau has offered to put your school on their mailing list.
Perhaps there is a lot more to say but there is still a lot more to do here.
October 12, 1960
My dear Florie:
This is my diary note for today. I am having a hard time keeping it up. The rush of events is tremendous. I do not see how anybody can explain what is happening to me unless he accepts the existence of a wise and benign deity.
I am not too well physically but in tip-top shape psychically and emotionally. The physical trouble may be due in part to unusual warm weather, warmer the last two weeks in the day than in the previous and the highs in the Karnak-Luxor region remain the highs, and often there is a spread of 40 degrees or more during the day. I am beginning to take afternoon tea more and putting some wine in water so it is more palatable and always accept tea or coffee when offered. The Arab tea and coffee in their own way are superior to what I get here; the tea indeed is superior to any in the U.S. from my point of view. But I do not follow my program for my condition and when I felt I should go to the Research Centre this morning I did and it came out very well indeed. For I did not have to ask questions which might be delicate—for they were asked of i.e., by me.
I was turned over by Dr. Kabash, the Agricultural Director, to Dr. Hafez, the Secretary General. I met him in the office of the Director-in-Chief, Dr. Turki where he must have observed me. When I presented certain aspects of the food problem he sent me to the Dairy, Nutritional and Microbiology laboratories. Again I was most fortunate.
I have written to Stanlay Diamond of the Agricultural Division in the Ferry Building; he would get a report from me, but I warned him it was a serious matter. Stanlay is connected with the General Semanticists who have refused not only all my papers, but even my request for membership. The ridiculousness of it is that every one of my rejected ideas has been accepted here and at levels these people could hardly approach. But when I got to the Dairy Section, praise to Allah, I met another University of California Graduate, Ibrahim Rifaat. Well you can bet I had the time of my life.
Visiting these research Laboratories is becoming a delight. For we not only exchange scientific information but I have never had such willing ears in my explanations of Islamic philosophy. It is beginning to look as if I may be called on in some higher quarters to give a full address. I have failed so far to meet Abdul Razak Kofal, but am too busy to care and later in the morning was directed to the Pan-Arab League. It is very close by and I shall go and see the man, relative of one of my hosts in this regard.
I have been hesitant here on account of my views on Jordan. I suggested to the people on “the Flying Clipper” not to go to Jordan. I was snubbed. When we approached Beirut the Captain called us all and said if anybody went to Jerusalem it was on their own and he-would not wait for them. Of course they lost face—they lost it other times too and I became a “hero.” But the Captain said if they were held up in Egypt he would wait for them either at Port Said or Port Suez.
There is a lot of unnecessary tension here concerning Jordan but though I disagree with the tension I have no use for playboy “kings” and want to see the Empire of Saladin restored. Naturally I have gotten sympathy here.
Yesterday we went to the bazaar. I bought my first present, which is for Dr. Baker and sized up a lot of things. Most of the purchases will be for the Rudolph Schaeffer School but I want to get a lot of prayer beads for presents in Pakistan.
October 15, 1960
My dear Harry:
Of all the crazy “fools-for-luck” in this universe, I think I can claim the world’s championship. I am slightly drunk at the moment and I don’t think you can blame me. I think I wrote you from Lahore that I have been constantly putting my foot in my mouth and saving the right things. There isn’t any formula, it just happens. Then I told Mr. A.A. Shah that the gardens there were superior to almost anything I had seen and I had seen plenty and he smiled all over and said, “I am the man responsible.”
So now I am compelled to write two letters, the first of which is in a way personal and the second of which is officially official, damn it, praise to God and Alhamdulillah which means the same thing only it adds to your prestige here.
Well, I have been going around in deep waters and what happens is that I generally get in deeper and deeper water in about everything. I am scheduled to meet the head of the Pan- Arab league and I can turn over to him the research I did in Cleveland, Ohio. Everybody who did not know my past takes me very seriously. I have written my friend, Stanley Diamond at the California Agricultural Division in the Ferry Building, sending him my report on the Dairy Research. But I have sent a copy to Marin County and am going to recopy it to send it to some publication, and I think ultimately I can get paid for it. It is a side issue excepting that my old acquaintances never took me seriously.
I have been going around trying to find out whether the food supply may or may not be augmented by Algae research and will write that below. Then my friend, Mr. Kinoshita, over in Tokyo, is going to send Soy and Garlic seeds here and after I mail this I go to the Vegetable Experimental Station, only now with a long list of stuff.
So when I told Mr. Ferguson, the chief Agricultural Attaché here how things were coming, and they are coming, he told me he wanted me to meet Dr. Ayres and Dr. Scott of the U.S. Ag. Department and I have just done that. Even before I got the whiskey which is effecting me I told Dr. Ayres about my bible which is Desert Agriculture and I found that one R.S. Ayres has been the Farm Adviser for Imperial County and has had charge of the latest version for U. C. and I could not have said a better thing and I hadn’t the slightest idea to whom I was saying it.
Not only that but he is a close friend of Dr. Fireman of the Experimental Station of Riverside; and when he found out what I am doing with Fireman’s stuff he said he would write him and tell him what I am doing and what is more, he is sure he has met me on my peregrinations, which is rather true and I am being commended and recommended all over the place, praise to God, Alhamdulillah and thanks to you.
So he is writing Fireman telling him about what I am doing and I shall start another letter to you giving you the latest reports and how I get there without knowing how I get there and somehow or other am very faithful to God and country and obeying the Scout Law. Anyhow he took me to one Dr. Scott. Dr. Ayres and Dr. Scott are both field workers for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and I am in, doing just what they want people to do, so I have to make an extra report of what I write next to you and I guess there is no harm in it. However I will wait until the fumes blow off and I feel a little more sane and balanced which is quite possible and meanwhile I have the double pleasure of being slightly, both physically and spiritually which is wonderful, but I better get sober before I write more.
End of special diary note.
October 16, 1960
My dear Harry,
When I went to the National Research Centre the other day I first called on Dr. Kabash, the head of the Agricultural Division. I put to him the problem of food increase through nitrifying Algae and he turned me over to Dr. Hafez who is the Secretary-General. Dr. Hafez had been present when I met Dr. Turki, the Chief Executive and as we discussed problems he sent me, without requesting it, to the divisions most concerned with protein increase. The Dairy report is sent to persons more concerned.
Nutritional Laboratory. They are seeking new ways to increase protein production and consumption. I think I have already given you the report of the Cotton Section of Cairo U., on protein increase in cottonseed meal; and the search for better Soy Beans among the Plant Physiologists and Breeders there. I am taking this matter up further with the Vegetable Experimental Station, having my first reply from Japan.
This section is concerned with high protein flours. In my report on the Plant Physiology Lab., I said that they had discovered a formula to maximize protein in Wheat. This section seems largely concerned with the collection of plants and plant foods used by people—some few thousands of years—and so they have a very large collection of seeds.
For our present purposes we can classify them into Cucurbits and Legumes. I have noticed privately people eat many Peanuts and Melon seeds as after dinner or party dainties. They are generally salted. The largest and best here come from a kind of Pumpkin they tell me is not grown in the U.S. and is primarily grown here for its seeds rather than as a vegetable food.
They have a very large collection of leguminous seeds of which they are very proud. Many of them belong to Genus Dolichos and Lathyrus and Vicia. They have a Vetch which yields for human rather than animal consumption and they are studying its composition. Of course this was the home of the Lentil, and they have brands rather like the black-eyed peas of the South—the same species included. The work is going on studying folk-ways in distant provinces where meat consumption is low. In other words they are “botanizing,” analyzing, and the next step will be to select plants that grow easily; also to improve the crops.
I found, to my surprise, that they do not know about C. siliqua. One could imagine that this crop would be grown in quantity. I am told it is found in Palestine and Syria. Anyhow I dropped a hint advising that it was dicocious.
I learned later that some of our wild leguminous shrubs from the southwest have been introduced here for cattle food, etc., but do not produce through seeds.
Microbiology. This was a lab. I have long wished to visit and I got so interested I did not take any notes. At the present time I do not think there is a clear picture between Algae considered from the technological point of view and the economical one, though they may be connected.
You may remember that I sent you report from the Biological Exp. Station in Tokyo, in re Chlorella. I carry a carbon of those notes with me. After I left Japan they made a wide survey to discover what Algae can draw their Nitrogen from the air, etc. In looking over the Russian soil-experiments, although they seem way behind us on the chemical side, they make a soil test for Nitrogen in pots before and after introducing various Bacteria and so determine in some way the consumption of nutrients by the Bacteria; or conversely the increase of N. if that does take place.
There is a different situation between the use of Blue-Green Algae which seem to have been investigated some and Green Algae. Part of the problem here is that due to the comparatively small amount of water, and the absence of ponds, pools, marches, etc., this has not been particularly feasible. But if Japan, or any other land, is successful in finding any Algae that can draw the Nitrogen front the air and fixate it, we may be on the way to solving one of the world’s food problems.
But there is a complexity here: how to keep the Protozoan out. Once they get in they feed on the Algae, and, of course, we have a number of diseases resulting from them, most common being Dysentery. This is of course, out of my field.
There is a big avenue upon concerning Brown Algae. The Japanese have gone way ahead here and in Ireland “seaweed” is a source both of fertilizer and food-supplements. Dow did some work in this field during the war but abandoned their plant in San Luis Obispo County. I understand now that there is a new company in the U.S. gone into this field of utilization of Algae for many purposes.
The Microbiology Lab. is also concerned with food and chemical preservation, under modern conditions. They are just beginning their tests. One stands here between the archaic conditions of villages with practical no sanitation, and the very modern factories introducing those problems which have belabored Pittsburgh and today Los Angeles.
I still have a number of unsettled matters in the Agricultural Sections of the Centre. I have still to see the labs, concerned with Aromatic Plants, Genetics, and Seed Investigations about which I shall report to you.
This will be mailed before I visit the Vegetable Experimental Sections again.
Samuel L. Lewis
October 18, 1960
Ohio State Agricultural Exp. Station
Dear Mr. Cutright,
This is part of my diary report. I was supposed to go on a trip to Suez today and it being cancelled I visited again the Vegetable Experimental Station at Dokki. I have already been shown around the place by one Ali Ahmed, but today I was taken around by a man who has become a very close friend, M.M. Billah.
His two main projects are with Tomatoes and Soy Beans. The work on Tomatoes is carried on separately by two groups, one primarily concerned with Breeding and the other with Biological factors. Neither of these teams is quite correct and must be integrated in the widest sense. The objective is to obtain firm fruit and have a unified result.
The best Tomatoes grow in sandy soils which are found in the Alexandria region and again near the pyramids. Ditches are dug to the depth of three meters there, flushed, and then either the seeds are planted, or are augured into holes to that level and pigeon manure is deposited therein. There is light sprinkling every three or four days the first month and then the plants are left alone until the fruiting takes place.
At Dokki the method is not too different in principal from some tried in California. But the seeds are planted in the ditches and the vines start by growing up the sides. The same manure and water program is tried. I was told objectively for the first time what I had heard, that pigeon manure makes an excellent fertilizer in these parts.
There are two kinds of Soy beans. One is very hard, and hard to cook. I have had a letter from a friend, James O. Kinoshita, in Japan, that he is obtaining another variety that is easier to cook. But there is also a Soy Bean, soft like our String Bean! I must say that the pods on both types of bushes were very high and the possibilities for this crop seem excellent.
M.M. Billah also does a lot of trellis and arbor viving for his crops where we use Grapes and you showed me Cucumbers. His wife is working in the Dairy Laboratory where I was the other day. She is getting her Ph.D. on Ice-Cream—and has been invited to the United States. Although I made four copies of the Dairy report, I am recopying hoping to get an article published and I may send you a carbon of same.
I also met someone whose specialty is in preparing Onions for storage. This is an excellent field crop here, the problem is in keeping them, and he has worked out a method which preserves them well for seven months—that is necessary.
I visited the Nutrition and Plant Microbiology laboratories last week, where they are working on the increase of protein. The dairy section is beginning to investigate Cotton Seed, Palm Oils, Sesame, etc., for better substitutes but they have little about the Soy bean in this regard (just as in Japan they would not know about Buffalo Milk or Sesame).
The plans worked out by Mr. Harry Nelson and myself have brought about excellent response. The other day two Federal Government experts looked up my work and have commended it, so much so it will be much easier when I get to Pakistan. Then, today I was questioned closely about agricultural information. Mr. Nelson collected bulletins from all over the country for me and I shall take them and have them reviewed first at the Vegetable Experimental station and then perhaps elsewhere. Mr. George Kenyon Jr. who has an office in New York and who may be the largest magazine distributor in the country, said he would cooperate fully in the plan to distribute all agricultural literature to Asian countries. All he wanted is depots, and there are certainly a number of willing depots here, if the press would only face the fact that the people of the world are much more interested in food then sex (from our point of view), we would be gaining friends instead of losing them in the U.N.
There are two very big problems into which I have become purposely involved. On account of existing conditions and methods there is not a maximum production of Sucrose from Cane and the usage of secondary products and wastes is inefficient. The soil shows exactly possibilities for Sugar Beets. But the problem here is the Cotton Worm. If the Cotton Worm can be eradicated the whole picture may change. Biological factors are so different from Louisiana. Besides Sugar came from this part of the world. (After hearing asucar as sugar and raz as rise and gata as cat the other day—without going into the etymology of coffee and orange, I stopped.) People demand sweets.
So I have given your name in a few places and when I next visit the Vegetable Station I shall also go over my Ohio state Bulletins carefully. I have already given your name to some people. I have still more interviews to come up with Prof. S. Hassan who is in charge of Plant Protection research at the National Research Centre. I am also anxious for you two to get together. He stayed in Berkeley for some time, recently returned here and evidently has met several of my friends in Central California.
The other Big problem is the production of Protein through Algae. Russia has been most successful lately with Fungi and Yeasts—that is another thing. Japan has been working with Algae—I am not referring to Chlorella here. But there is the problem here of Protozoan contamination. Still with the increase of population and the present world food problems it does not hurt to look into these things.
You may be surprised or glad to know that Dr. Meyer’s work on Plant Physiology is standard here and used in all courses on that subject.
Samuel L. Lewis
October 19, 1960
My Dear Florie:
Yesterday was my birthday, but here it was the birthday of Husein, the grandson of Prophet Mohammed, who is said to have obtained the divine wisdom and to have died a martyr. Although the people are not Shias, the day was a holy-holiday and the night time was the climax of a festival which began Monday and may continue on but this letter will be mailed before-hand.
I do not know whether the American public has been shocked by the closeness of the vote on admitting China to the U.N. and those two things do not seem related. But “we” continue to harbor huge areas of blind spots about the cultures, religions, outlooks of Asians and are either cynical or look to these damned European “experts” for what simply is not, or else throw out the term “fanatic.” Any and all these courses are turning Nations against us and they have every right to be against us because while we are verbally fighting Russia we are wasting an awful lot of ammunition on the side-lines.
Tomorrow I expect to go to the American University and go over the book they are using on something they call “Sufism.” It is exactly as much “Sufism” as the Watts-Benoit literature is “Zen.” Both Allen Watts and the French writer have given us books which may be excellent books but they have nothing whatever to do with anything Japanese. There is quite a Japanese group here and they are, to me, very typical Japanese, but perhaps more intelligent and they are here either as exchange scholars or training for diplomatic posts. It is very easy to communicate with them on any level, including the highest.
The same is true of the Arabs as with all other Asian peoples I have met, although for the moment the Arabs are very strong in quantity. It is very difficult to delineate between Islam and Sufism until you get deeper into what is called tarik. And the first nonsense that has to be cleared away is that there are not many Sufis nor persons interested in Sufism and that they are a lot of fanatics and superstitious humbugs who are lazy or worse.
My immediate introduction has been through Mohammed Murtaz Billah who is usually called Murtaz. I do not know whether he was converted to Sufism or not, but if so it was by his wife. And who is his wife? She is a top graduate, who is now training for her Ph.D. by doing research on Ice Cream. We have probably already met because she told her husband an American came into her laboratory last week and I was in that lab. last week. So we begin with an intelligent and intellectual woman, whom I expect to meet soon. They are moving and as soon as this is over I shall be a house guest.
I not only have had conversations with Billah on the intellectual level, but with many others and I have flocks of introductions all over the place, made more difficult by my being often stopped in the street either for tea or arguments. Even at Al-Azhar I have found a favorable attitude toward Sufism although the gossipers who don’t go near Al-Azhar tell me differently. I am a little tired this morning and have to get this report out or miss it because of pressures and this includes a sort of hangover of a different nature.
The Khan-i-Khalili is a bazaar district near Al-Azhar. It is full of narrow streets and lanes and has many small mosques and still more khankahs where Sufis meet. One needs a guide at night unless one has a compass.
It was something like a mixture of Chinese New Year’s and Summer Fair at the same time. Tremendous crowds surged down alleys, lanes, and what not, made difficult by boys using a sort of football formation to surge forward, endangering the blind. There was considerable lack of human consideration. There were many women in the more open places but the narrow slots had only men, or the women connected with the stalls. There are woman dervishes who meet separately. So far only the Chistis have had the men and women do Zikr together. But I think I saw just two veils and when there were women they mingled with each other, or men, not noticeably different from other peoples.
It took us quite a while to find the Shadhili khankah. Each group meets separately in the same building. My friend’s Sheikh is no more, but two or three Khalifa led the ceremonies. There were some readings of the Qur’an and chanting. Then the Zikrs in which I could join, singing the name of Allah.
The first thing noticeable is that these groups perform functions like both antiphonal and choir singing in the Christian churches, but to me, with a rather purer sound. Later on there were melodious songs—beautiful arias and not just chants, in which others, including the younger men, repeated a phrase of Zikr in rhythm-background. Then we held hands and performed Zikr standing close together and later on in a sort of jump movement and some swung their backs; this was heightened in speed and loudness for a while and touched the depths of my being. Then they varied the Zikr phrasing—I notice all Sufi schools do this somewhat, passing from the intelligible to the semi-intelligible or non-intelligible intellectually. On this point Alan Watts has been entirely correct. I find when one says Eleh instead of Allah it is much easier to sing and feel. I notice also that these men tended to pronounce the name of God, i.e. Allah, as I have been used to do and as I have been corrected in parts of India but stubbornly refused to withdraw. Whatever impetus I have had for my pronunciation, it accorded with the Shadhili chanting and must have made me more welcome.
After the ceremony which was long and involved we had some discussion, food, more discussion and finally tea. The one thing I objected to was the insistence I must learn Arabic. And so far as Sufism is concerned, the “mantric” modification of words makes the argument seem weaker than ever.
On the other hand, on the conversation with those who speak English, I find surprisingly great agreement. Orthodoxy is needed for the beginners. It is best to be trained in some form of ceremony, law, custom, but that is introduction only. The men explained “spiritual liberty” exactly the same as my first Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan did, and they had the same attitude toward religion and religious. The educated ones were far from dogmatic and were all universal. There was agreement that Mohammed was the Seal of the Prophet which meant recognition of all prophets and their teachings. This was far from the Arabism of one of them.
As a side note, I went to Cairo U. yesterday to meet the great philosophers who happened to be away and the Chief Superintendent rather surprised me by asking me to come again so he could take me around. I do not know how such friendships are established; they are a constant source of wonder but this will lead me to the scholastic side of Islamic mysticism.
Around ten o’clock we went to the Syedna Hussein Mosque where three groups of dervishes were holding forth, but the place was crowded. Then we visited some khankahs. And so on until the groups were completing their sessions. Most of these were “wild,” but the largest one second to be made of intellectuals who were sober and far more numerous.
The Rifa’is were more ecstatic then the Shadhilis but there were some very wild and the large sober group I did not find about, nor did I meet the Naqshibandis. The first and most obvious impression is the fact that there are many thousands of Sufis here. They fall very roughly into three types—the parasites, the young and the mature. The parasitic type is shushed and I think they are a dying cult. I am told the Mevlevi or Whirling Dervishes belong here. Despite their wonderful beginning, the substitution of “family” for spiritual attainment as the way to leadership has undoubtedly caused this. Wherever family steps in, God steps out—although was do not learn this lesson easily. The Shadhilis lean over the other way to see that leadership does not come through inheritance.
I find that not only do these sessions take the place of hymn and other singing, there is undoubtedly a lot of blowing off of steam and even transmutation of sexual and lower faculties. This is obvious when one sees so many hundreds of young men, and also the presence of Negroes who are prone to ecstasy anyhow. We have not looked into the psychological advantages of the as processes and I do not intend to do so now. But there is also a moral advantage and more. A single experience on almost any level is worth thousands of lectures.
I do wander what the introduction of jazz will do here but I am inclined to believe it will strengthen Sufism as the expense of orthodoxy rather than otherwise. This has already happened in West Africa. Hundreds of thousands of people are becoming Muslims, but all either through the Ahmadiyyas or through the Sufism.
I stop here and will continue, perhaps this afternoon, after I go to Al-Azhar and gain another view, or confirm the above more.
Oct. 19. I met one Peter Ross who has lived in Los Angeles and New York and who accepted Islam yesterday. We were given the prayer instruction which I know fairly well, but in going over it I found deeper meaning. Which may be very important. I had hoped to learn these meanings when the Centre was established. I am not much in favor of ecumenical or formal prayer. I shall undoubtedly go back again.
In the office afterwards I met a young colored boy from New York who is going through training here I regard him as a sort of ally and when I leave here will correspond with him. There is little sense, however, in referring to color for there were some dark Africans in the office and I think the psychology of common nationalism overcomes a host of differences and differentiations of which we are not always aware. I am only hoping that young man like this Peter Ross, in their enthusiasm for a new religion do not overlook the endless possibilities in brotherhood. Yet perhaps my stand here is partly due to my zest for brotherhood above all things.
I also met a Pakistani from Peshawar who was very effusive. He is here to study European Languages and to major in English so he can go to the States. But when I mentioned a Pakistani tailor who, I had met recently he turned cold. This poor tailor is one of those Indian refugees who become an enforced exile and is now living here because he has a good trade. But I can see he is a lonely man, a sort of double exile. So all my heart goes out to him, but I am going to be slightly slow in expressing it. I did leave him two of my published articles to read. He is also a lover of Ikbal. But it is this type of man to whom I feel so close in heart and I know he feels that too.
I have just returned from an invitational opening of the Indian Art Exhibit. This is an honor for there were present otherwise only dignitaries and artists of the highest type. Not even the U.S. Embassy was represented. I find the paintings vigorous and excellent, integrating the best of modern movements with certain traditional techniques and outlooks. It appears to me—but I may be too much of an enthusiast here—that India is fixating itself in art.
Although I saw the Buddha Jayanti exhibit I saw such trash in connection with religion that I did not see much hope. Not only that, too many Indians tend to defend the total absence of devotional feeling in Circean-like posters for their religions festivals. If one says anything they ascribe it to Islamic prejudice. But art without feeling is bad enough and in religion it is worse than idolatry. The Hindus present all seemed to be of higher caliber and the art showed the one thing that India needs—positive strength. So I see great possibilities.
I have just read the Indian 1960 year book. There is now no question in my mind that India will outstrip China. They use their bad advertising in religion and they are very honest in statistics and conclusion, the opposite of China. If the Chinese have some of the gains that India has they spent more time advertising and propagandizing it than going ahead on moment. Increases of 7% or 70$ or even 700% in India are taken in stride. Naturally you are going to have an increase of 700% in TV sets without that being as important as 7% in Onion production.
I also was in the Bazaar section today but I have not found the man I met In New York. I called on Isaac and gave him a good kabbalistic interpretation of parts of Genesis based on the Sufi approach and also on “Nathan the Wise.” It is the Germans who have been showing “Nathan the Wise” here—I think this is marvelous. In his speech yesterday Nasser used the word “Jew” just once and I am not sure of the translation. He only speaks against Zionism and does not even to use the term “Israel.”
Of course politics are boiling and there is some feeling that the King of Jordan may get just what Jefferson would have prescribed, and which is perhaps necessary. Quite apart from the Zionistic situation I am so definitely for the restoration of the Ayyubite Empire that I am in no position to object over to the strong emotional approach.
My dear Max and Winnie:
I hope this finds you well. As I have much correspondence and many reports. I cannot afford to send many letters air-mail, but there are some factors involved here.
I just received a letter from Bessies that she is going into a sort of seclusion. I do not blame her; infect I warmly sympathize with her, but I am therefore answering to and through you. But I have heard nothing too definite of Blanche and as I generally use the slower sea mail, my news does not travel very fast.
After long months of suspense, my stray mail arrival here late in September and at the same time I had one of those inner experience which opened doors for me. Since that time things have been going at top speed and also at top levels. For instance I have just returned from a special invitational bid to the opening of the Indian Art Exhibit. I shall probably report on that to the Rudolph Schaeffer School.
This pension is the rendezvous of many Indians and Mr. Pande, the cultural attaché is a good friend of mine. He is looking over my last two Indian reports which he thinks are very fine but wants more time. On top of that the coming Indian Ambassador is my old friend who was Consul-General Hussein in San Francisco and who always was my host in New Delhi. He is one of my few confidants and I think we shall get closer when I get my reports in.
Science. All my scientific work which was turned down in San Francisco by men who knew me well socially but not otherwise has not only been accepted here but I am working on higher levels in the exchange of information first from the U.S.A. here, then also from Japan and preparing a lecture on the scientific accomplishments of this land. I am part time guest of the National Research centre which involves the top scientists. At this point it gets very complicated which I shall explain below.
Philosophy. The same is true of my backgrounds in philosophy excepting that here the American Embassy is fully behind me also in plans to lecture on contemporary American philosophers in other countries. We have worked out long programs. I now have invitations from so many universities in India and Pakistan that I do not know how I can arrange to visit them all. But there is no time to worry about that now.
Horticulture, of course, is my main field and my work has both been commended by and recommended to the U.S. Government experts who in turn are opening further doors for me, especially in Pakistan. It is interesting to note here, that the works of Dr. Mayer of Columbus, Ohio, Blanche’s former husband, are standard here. A lot of this is good karma though because between Blanche’s introductions, and my connections with the University of California, everything is opening, poof and bang, and I do not have any days off. Every morning from 9 to 1 and the afternoons have been too hot. The warm season has not been allayed, and it is still over 90° in the daytime.
U.S. Culture is being received on a high level here and tomorrow night will see the formal opening of the cultural center. This is a very complicated thing.
Oriental Studies. With the exception of Moore on Hawaii and B. of Yale all the frustrations put on my path were at the hands of European born men who “teach” Oriental philosophies in America. California is one of the worst. Where did Watts get his credentials to “teach” Buddhism; or Spiegelberg to “teach” Hinduism and Comparative religion; or London to “teach” Near Eastern Studies, or the department in Berkeley of U. C.? The same is true all over the country and worse elsewhere.
Esotericism. The number of people in high places who are interested in occultism and mysticism is very great. My closest friend here, M.M. Billah is not only one of the top scientists but one of the top believes—no experiences of occult phenomena. His wife is becoming one of the top scientists and she is even more advanced.
Last night I celebrated my birthday by astounding a large Dervish gathering because it we also the birthday of Hussein’s grandson of the Prophet Mohammed. I saw many many hundreds of Dervishes. While they were often quite young, I saw many educated people and most of my evening was in conversation with one of the leading engineers. The narrow orthodox pooh-pooh the esoteric side of their faith, but just go around the Universities and walk to the scientists and you will get a different pictures. Yes some of the lawyers and newspapers man are “realists” which means they dose their eyes and minds to reality, but you can bet scientists don’t hold that way because they are constantly using the mind and have to develop the mind.
Not many doors have opened for me yet but I am busy all the time. What will happen when these doors fully open I do not know.
The Dervishes as a whole are more on the occult than the mystical side, but this is no doubt due to the fact that mystical experiences per se come from Divine Grace. If you don’t have some clairvoyant experiences here you just don’t get it. I do not know far for this is so. The books on Sufism are all wrong. Sufism did not develop in Persia. Yes, you had mystical poets there. But the atmosphere of Egypt is thousands upon thousands of years old and electrified and magnified esoterically.
I condemned a young Christian severely until he was pale and then said: “Wait I am only half done. New I am going to answer every one of my objections.” He knew nothing of Gnosticism or the early Christian Yogis who lived in Egypt or even of the Gospel of St. Thomas. I sent him back to him church. Fortunately as the engineers clear land here and dig for water, they also combine archeological digging and may bring to light most of the Christian Gnosticism and Hermeticiscm which has been covered by the sands. This is more interesting to me than ancient Egypt—and there is a big gap here. But the atmosphere is the same.
Tomorrow I am taking up with the American University and also with the Embassy. Many of the Nations which voted for Communists China at the U.N. did this in part in protest against the drive we put out concerning their cultures. I was once told by a Senussi that is order to graduate in his family he had to undergo almost exactly the same disciplines as the theosophists told me in 1915. Today Lybia is a free nation and we don’t know a thing about it. You can’t be a prime Minister unless you are an occultist.
Well, I have said enough here, but send love and greetings.
Samuel L. Lewis
October 25, 1960
My dear Florie:
I have not been keeping my diary up to date. Today I went to renew my visa but found it is automatically good until December 3rd and they will be delighted to renew it. My references are of the best.
I am now both waging a war and a peace. The war is against first all European professors of Asian teachings, whomsoever in the length and breadth of the United States, who are not on good terms with at least one Asian nation. The harm done by them is incalculable. Some are quite unaware of it, some do not care. We cannot have communication between East and West until all intermediaries are removed and there is honest conversation between us.
The same includes men like Moore and Northrup who are self-credentialed, yet give out degrees. We have thus no standard and in a sense no morals. The President makes wonderful speeches which are not implemented by facts.
On the constructive side there are no intermediaries. UAR. has problems, sometimes we have the answers. They can go direct to get the answers. I am working now on two agricultural problems in this way, finding out what American research stations or what American chemical firms can bring the answers.
Today I visited Dr. Hasan Bagdadi. He is also a graduate of the University of California. He is in charge of the Ministry of Agricultural Reform and so has a big job. We discussed water problems at length and I think I have some answer for him right on the Berkeley Campus. This is the work I like to do. You bring people together, they make exchanges directly. Not only are there no European professors acting as intermediaries, but no Moores, no Northrups, and in the end no Sam Lewises, either. Man can meet with man and man can help man and that is why I am here. I don’t care two-bits if none of the self-esteemed Orientalists in the U.S. don’t recognize this. I feel this is working as Allah wants man to work.
And do you know, Florie, every Egyptian I have met feels the same way. They like it. And the Americans here appreciate it. And the young people in this pension are also favorable because they gain if I succeed in my crusade, inshallah, to recognize degrees from Harvard and Columbia and Minnesota over degrees from Heidelberg, Leiden, and Oxford on Oriental subjects. I am not belittling these universities. A few years back they were supposed to be turning out the greatest chemists and other scientists. This became more legendary than rule. Even here the Germans are doing great jobs, and they should be complimented on what they are doing not on what we think they are doing.
I have not had any mail from the S.F. Bay region for a long time, from anybody. I did want the notices from the A.A.A.S. which I am told still exists. These would be turned over to the Cultural Attaches here; they are looking into such things. The days of Watts “teaching” Zen Buddhism and of Landaus refusing to recognize the American Duncan MacDonalds are over. Even the days of Spiegelbergs lecturing on “comparative religion” and skipping Mohammed. Or even for Dr. Chaudhuri speaking on Sufism. I think Dr. C. does a bang up job on Hinduism, even Spiegelberg does well there. And this is what you find in many parts of the U.S. In Chicago it is worse. Don’t think the Asians don’t know it.
I read parts of Qur’an often until I come to some passage full of meat. My conversations with Sufis are very enlightening. I shall continue so long as Allah wishes and permits.
P.S. Dr. Bagdadi’s office has put your name on the mailing list. Please use any materials they send you and let others have access to them.
October 26, 1960
I am sending this by sea and I because I can’t afford any more the air-mail letters. I send out globs of letters and new answers; many I do not expect to be answered, but some I do. I did not get any more letters forwarded from San Francisco although I was told there were some very important ones on the way. I seem to get most of my bank notices from S.F. but the one telling me of moneys coming in has not arrived. There is no concern here. There is much more concern that I have not heard from my travel agent and I must make some arrangement ahead of time for my departure. It looks now as if I’ll have to try to main some other arrangement which is going to be hard on me because I am overworked.
I am overworked largely because my plans are being taken seriously. There are two definite themes here and they are in some ways similar. Egypt, after twenty-five hundred years domination by foreigners is coming into its own. We do not realize the amount of energy awakened by this. And in my one life, every plan I ever had thwarted by selfish persons has been accepted—if there is a single thing of my earlier life not accepted here I do not know what it is. It keeps me busy as all business must be done in the morning and then I have to write, do research, run errands and what not the rest of the day—and this is limited by the warm weather. Even though the mornings are quite cool, they warm up fast.
I am enclosing some whimsy but there are serious, as for example, your plan for the desert. With some modifications if has already beach adapted but will take some time be complete.
All my horticultural ideas, adopted. I am writing to different stations in the United States for material, and this will be something. Tomorrow, after I mail this, I go to the Information Bureau and either on a field trip, or thence to the American chemical companies which handle agricultural chemicals.
I have writing some strong letters to the State Department on account of our ignoring the Sufis. Damn it, Bill, there must be at least 50,000,000 people under Sufi training and we pay no attention and have, instead, a lot of professors who get there education (?) God knows where, denying their existence and giving out as Islamic philosophy whatever they choose in give out—which has nothing to do with the way people think. And the Islamic philosophy covers more than the Sufis.
My plans for introducing American poetry are being completed, to accompany talks on American philosophy. Behind it all we have nothing to fear if we can love people. This is the spirit of Sufism, too. But those who were interested in Inayat Khan become involved in personality. Not many accept this world as it is and so we have international misunderstanding. The president makes wonderful speeches and the talks dead-end. Whom is he kidding?
The American contributions to science stand out more and more each day. We are so far ahead of Russia in the sciences where I said we are ahead, there is nothing to it. In other words, the UAR loves our scientists and does not love our politicians. There is something very basic in this from which one might learn a lesson some day.
October 30, 1960
My dear Max and Winifred:
Owing to the fact that my sea-mail letters do not seem to get through, and that I am getting no answers, as I cannot afford to write a lot of letters on recent events, I am sending this to you and ask that you share it. If you want to keep it permanently do so, otherwise you may finally send it to Jack Betts at 772 Clementina, which is my legal home.
Yesterday I had the first, “day off” since I have been here. It is easy to get a bus to the pyramids, as the terminus is at the square nearby, transportation is often, and it is really an express. I used a guide who knows many languages and says he reads hieroglyphics. It does not matter. I visited Mina (which we call Giza), Memphis and Sakkara in one day.
Now what I am reporting is not exactly in line with what I have read. But I must preface this by saying that there is no change in regard to esoteric transmission, etc. but the places I found are different. Even though I have come to a conclusion I found today that the T.S. has offices in a building I must visit shortly, which houses the UAR agents for a number of American chemical firms where I must go on business. If they speak English there I shall try to find out the local views on these matters, and I know well before hand you will be interested in the report.
Somehow or other I was not interested in the Great Pyramids. I may climb the big one later and I have been inside. I did not get the impression conveyed by books and it was psyche a la Paul Brunton and not deeply esoteric! I was more interested in the Sphinx and I came away feeling that Marjory Hansen and so Edgar Cayce were right, that there is a lot of excavation to be done. I got no sense of finality and as the Sakkara pyramids are much older, there could easily be old buildings in the region of the Great Pyramids. The finding of a boat so nearby, in recent years, testifies to this. I saw nothing like bottom ground, such as I saw at Taxila, where only after at least six levels of diggings were completed was there any conclusion that there were not cultures below, and even these six have not been clearly delineated in writings. Troy also showed levels. But even where there are 200’ and 400’ shafts, there is no indication that real bottom has been reached and I remain also in my feeling that the Sahara regions have lots to reveal. Even perhaps close by where the diggings are only along the edge of the green belt, and not further back. The whole field and sphere of archaeology appears to me, even in the most complete and profound aspects possibly superficial. I do think we shall have it all for a long time.
Memphis is nice, complete and developed art at the time of prosperity; excellent art, but not necessarily spiritual. I did buy some post cards here and it is possible I shall buy a lot more.
But it is about Sakkara I wish to write. When I studied Schuré I felt very sure I had at one time been an initiate in ancient Egypt. I have psychically repeated the process and at certain times this was repeated in my own life. I see nothing to support the research that any Amenhotep IV or Akhnaten developed the ancient mysteries. I have seen no evidence that ancient mysteries were not very ancient, just as HPB said. And it was at Sakkara I got it right in the face and beautifully.
To begin with, despite all books, there is one pyramid we entered which showed rooms and I understand there is at least one more which was also used. I believe 33 pyramids as such have been uncovered and 20 more in a state or ruin. The very number is much larger than was taught at earlier date.
There is no question in my mind that I have been in this pyramid before. It is exactly what I have seen in vision during my Schurd days down to small details. It also validates the sayings of Jesus: “Straight is the gate and narrow is the way and few there be that find it.” As in Schure you have to climb on your hands and knees; as in Schure there are the decorations which I did not see in the Great Pyramid. These decorations were hieroglyphic, esoteric and initiatory.
The whole time I was at Sakkara I was in such an ecstatic mood I could neither take notes nor follow my guide because things were constantly attracting my attention. I have talked to a young man here about our going together and perhaps with some others and I am quite willing, even anxious to spend at least a full day at Sakkara, and no Memphis or Mina (Giza). To me this was it and this is it.
Blanche loaned me some books written by a person who seems to have memories of former lives in Egypt. I think they also indicate a high degree of spirituality and esotericism at an early period. I feel sure of it. Sydney Corine used to say that the Dendera circles showed a civilization covering two complete cycles of the equinox, i.e. going back 50,000 years of more. I have not been to Dendera and I am not going to Luxor until the weather calms down; which will be in December. I may or may not have the Paul Brunton experience with adepts down there.
Here I am meeting the Dervishes, whom as I have said before, are the esotericisms. When I told my close brothers here of my experience, that I got little out of the Great Pyramid and a tremendous amount from Sakkara, he said that was the same with him and he is sure that Sakkara was the center of initiatory rites.
This is no doubt a slap at those who see prophecies in the Great Pyramid. I am not so much slapping the Great Pyramid as elevating the earlier ones in the point of occult history. And again, the Great Pyramids seem to have been for the dead and some at Sakkara for the living. But although I have this temporary confirmation, I shall check the T. S. if possible and get their views and also check my own experiences later.
Outside of the above I am working with much vigor on the most serious matters I have ever tackled in the distinct fields of horticulture and cultural exchange. In the former it is all peaceful, lovable and cooperative and all my faculties are working. In the latter it is a battle against ignorance, materialism and selfishness. I am not troubled about the outcome in either. I have nothing a fear but my own weaknesses and every day more and more opportunities, in fact so many that I did take a whole day off to catch my breath even at the risk of running behind.
You may know a lot of friends of Marjory and I hope this letter can reach them. As said above, I am sure we are going to find lots in the ages around the Great Pyramids and perhaps much more important occultly. Even at Sakkara it seems to be that there may be far more hidden than has been uncovered to date.
My mind and emotions have been in such a high state that they pull my body; the continued warm weather has been a little hard, and also the meal hours and lack of fruit (but not vegetables) compels some readjustment. But all in all this is by far the best time of my life.
Samuel L. Lewis
My dear Harry:
Today the weather cooled off enough so that I could take a long afternoon walk and visit the Orman Gardens. I had been taken there by the Chief Floriculturist of Cairo U. some time ago and made a lot of notes, but they had neither head nor tail and he walked rapidly. I am therefore sectioning off the place and reporting. But first the news.
I was given two weed problems, “Did you ever hear of Cynodon dactylon? That is our worst problem.” Where have (or haven’t) I heard that before. I reported this to the Embassy and was sent to the commercial section; they are directing me to the representatives of our chemical firms. But the street numbering is very strange here and I was only able to locate them after hours. At present I have a number of dates with big shots at the Ag. Department and Cairo U., and they are shoving me aside for the King of Afghanistan, so I don’t care. Am I that important?
Next last week’s Time has an article on a lure discovered by the Federal Department of Agriculture for the Gypsy Moth with suggestions that similar research will now he used for the other moths. As the Cotton Moth is the problem here, this is giving me another opportunity.
I am now going ahead full blast on our plan, writing to different states and universities for specific agricultural bulletins. I know pretty well what they want here and have a fairly full program when I return. I have three alternatives in life: (a) to work on an estate as a nursery man; (b) to return to college, do more plant study and some research and also a language or two; (c) travel both for lecturing and research. I shall make no decision until I meet the Fullbright people in Karachi. Unfortunately I have not heard from my travel agent and so can’t tall when I can book passage.
This morning I also had another bit of luck. There was a Voice of America agent at this place. He is connected with our Embassy at Beirut and I put my cedar plan before him. He was delighted and promised me full cooperation. I am hoping to go to Damascus on November 15 or thereabouts and then back to Beirut for this purpose and one or two other loose ends. I wish to visit Dr. Holliday, who is in charge of Agricultural research there.
I met the Director of Gardens at Cairo U. this morning and asked him for a plant list form his grounds. He said he might have this in a few days. In exchange I have promised him Gingko and Cherry seeds—this can become big stuff, what with Ambassadors and politicians attending such plantings. I won’t be here then, and would not want to be. I have attended such affairs at Strybling.
There is an island close by with a new park in which is being landscaped. Being so close I have not visited it and will report at a later day. But I passed it on my way to Orman gardens and walked on the banks of the Nile on the other side. The street landscaping consists mostly of some shrub Chamaecyparis and flowers. Phlox and Coreopsis were doing well but the Petunias were small. Perhaps because there is not enough organic material in the soil. Lantana is the chief shrub here. You may remember what I wrote about Hong Kong—there is a neglected, native weed. Here they carefully trip it, use it like Veronica, [?]. But of course Bougainvillea is the chief vine.
Dahlias are the chief cut flowers in the stores and Cosmos is used in this place but I did not see any in the gardens. These seem to be “professional plants.”
I visited only the north section of the Gardens. There is big boulevard leading to the University. South of the boulevard are two sections, one of which is Botanical and the other Zoological, but planted. The north section consists of three parts: The Rose gardens, the Conifer Arboretum and the Palm Arboretum. The difference of the last two is relative, the Conifers containing about 75% of this group (some data is give) with some Palms and the Palm section containing some conifers.
I don’t know how they do it in this heat, but the Roses here are excellent. All bushes are treated as it for cut flowers and the stems are taken away with the flowers so there are only a few vines and standards. Nearly all the bushes were down to two feet. Perhaps this helps with the bloom, for even at this late date there were plenty. This means a long and prolific season. In Japan they let them grow rank, little pruning and never cut buds. Here they cut buds and leave only few to open out full, and this for the purpose of beatifying the gardens.
On my way down I noticed that Cassia are the chief tree and inside the garden G. nodosa predominated. A few were in bloom. I also found a Casuarina suberosa, the largest and heaviest I have ever seen of this genus. It is not the type used in the gardens and on highways.
C. lawsoniana does very well, also C. goveniana which is marked as coming from California. I found two fine Liquidambars in a corner, not marked. All trees are not marked. Bauhinia variegata was very good and I noticed many Bauhinias on the street I walked back on. C. bignonioides was not at all good—no autumn conditions here. Ilex cornuta was growing thin, almost like a vine, but too straight and strong.
Dalbergias were doing good but Araucarias not so. There was a shrub-like aster Jasmine in that section but the flower had more points. The odor was definite but not quite so strong. There were also varieties of Papyrus here and over by the side of the pond. The pond is for Lotus, native, of course. There were several Croton beds. They look much nicer when pruned or kept down.
I saw one Agathis robusta, about which I reported when in the Orient. It had a good clean column. There were also beds of Salvia—which seem to be fine here, but one might expect that. Cedrella does wall and there were many Cupressus sempervirens Stricta—a whole row, C. lusitanica, marked from Mexico does fine.
There were many pines. P. halepensis not so good. This may be because they treat all the trees the same—some care, some watering, etc. P. canariensis was wonderful and P. roxburghii still better, with several varieties. All flourishing.
S. babylonia was growing near the Lotus pond and E. globulus near the entrance, two giant guardians, but this tree grows well here all over.
I visited the pyramids the other day, those at Giza which are the big ones and those at Sakkara which were much more interesting. One can see how narrow the valley is. The desert floor is sometimes sandy—which would not be corrected by irrigation dams; and sometimes fine dust, which would. My own impressions confirm those of friends who have been here before, that we really have not scratched the surface in archeology. There is an immense Christen period hardly touched, and I believe one is going to find many ruins in the desert slightly east of the formations which are famous. Mostly the digging steps dead end, and nowhere did I see rock bottom soil as I did at Taxila or as is true at Troy, where the lowest level has definitely been reached and excavated. Indeed I can only confirm Prof. Creswell, the present day authority who criticizes all his predecessors and I think rightly; and everybody accepts him today.
Samuel L. Lewis
November 1, 1960
For years I lived, rejected by everybody in almost everything. It is almost unbelievable now. For I am accepted by everybody in almost everything, and though the years have gradually adjusted until I can “take it” although at this writing it has almost the opposite meaning.
Yesterday I was directed to Dr. Mahdi Asaumi, head of the Agricultural Department at Cairo U. First I was told he was head of the Horticulture Department. But that is untrue, but like the head of that Department he is also a California man. You can understand why I say I go around saying “Allah!” on one side, and “Ouki, woe, woe!” on the other. Indeed after I had made my arrangements at the University I went back to make an appointment with Paul Keim asking for a field trip around the first of December. I would like to visit Syria first, and then after that trip, go to Upper Egypt.
Dr. Asaumi is both the head of the Department and in charge of Fruits. He asked me if I cannot him seeds of Coffee, Tea and Spices. I said I would take care of that when I reached India. But the new Ambassador from that country has just arrived and is an old and close friend of mine and by listening I believe I may be able to “pull” a stunt so they can get the seeds or specimens before I reach that country. We shall see.
The main fruits have are Guava, Figs, Grapes, some varieties of citrus, Mangos, Bananas, a few Prunes, chiefly Apricots in the North. They are also growing Caster Beans near Sinai.
Now Harry, here you come into a bunch of pictures and I leave it up to you what to do.
Ceratonia siliqua. This is hardly grown here and they could not give me any explanation. They admitted all my arguments, especially the drought resistances aspect.
Loquats are also not grown here. I do not why. Nor Avocados, but the conditions may not be right for them.
Opuntia. There are few varieties outside of tunas. They would like to get in touch with some Cactus Societies in the States and also if there is a magazine, to get copies. Can you help out? Can you ask some of your friends to write to
Dr. Mahdi Asaumi,
Department of Agriculture,
I mentioned here about the use of the grinder in which Optunia “branches” and Apples or other fruits are ground together, offering very palatable juices with high vitamin content. They never heard of it.
Catalina Cherries. Boy, here we have it. I sold them. If it is not done before, I want to get into a huddle with you on this. Maybe your dream can come true with regard to both cross-breeding and use as stocks. I think this Prunus would be the best possible stock plant for this region and it could lead to all kinds of grafting and increase of fruit varieties here. Whatchesay?
They also would like some new varieties of Citrus from California.
Today I spent over an hour at the Proctor & Engineering Co. which represents the Bean Food & Machinery, etc. They do not have any material at their disposal—something I run into elsewhere too. But they agreed that the Pest and Weed problems are probably the biggest at the moment. Nor have they solved them.
But they told me about the Egyptian Agricultural Society, a private organization, which appears to be something like our horticultural or academy of science organizations. This group is on an island quite close to where I live. They are at present engaged in a world-wide Agricultural exhibition which opens in spring.
I was given the names of the men who are supposed to be experts in herbicides and pesticides. They told me this group is actively engaged in research, having experimental stations just south of Cairo. I shall go as soon as possible. My Thursday program is for the ministry of Agriculture and Vegetable Experimental Station; Friday is the Islamic Sabbath and I expect to go either to the pyramids or to a museum; Saturday I visit the Cairo U. as above.
In the meanwhile I have received very good news on my plan for introducing contemporary American philosophy elsewhere and I have to take this up with the Embassy, which can also be done Friday if necessary. You see I am a very busy hamster now that I am “retired.”
Samuel L. Lewis
November 5, 1960
My dear Florie:
Every word which I now write is done with utmost deliberation and I begin Bismillah Er-rahman, Er-rahim, which oft repeated words have failed utterly to find their way into the consciousness of some persons who wish to surrender to a phantom they call “Islam” which has nothing whatsoever to do with surrender to Islam. This falsifying of surrender, surrendering to something which is not God, can only lead to trouble and dissimulation. And the proof is simple—they reap what they have sown and will continue to reap what they have sown.
It is too bad that some innocent people live in a dream-world. This dream-world they call “reality” and it becomes all the more mystifying became this “reality” of theirs brings no confect, no solace and no happiness. There is not a single pseudo-problem about which you have written me which is not an artificial concoction of the very persons who are now crying. And their cries prove conclusively that they do not believe in Allah Who is all Merciful, all Beneficent. Either Allah is not Beneficent, Merciful or they are liars and won’t admit it. And I say they’re liars and they will continues to be liars and there will not be any Mosque or any help forthcoming until people surrender to Allah and really surrender and ask Allah for guidance and quit shoving their duplicity into each other’s faces while they stab behind their backs and think that Providence does not see and foresee.
The very personalities who are crying now twice had money for a Mosque and they themselves threw it away. It started in with double-crossing Bashir Minto and it kept on in double-crossing.
I have a pile of stuff to bring to Al-Azhar. I cannot go now for reasons which will be given explicitly below. But between one man how attacks the Prophet and another who attacks the Prime Minister Nasser and another who does not believe in Allah, what kind of a “Mosque” do you think you are going to get? I am not talking nonsense and I am not conveying nonsense and the nonsense-mongers are utter blind fools because they think what they do, or rather mis-do is not know.
Dr. Shawarbi is now the head of the UAR delegation to the U.N. His reports are given more and more importance not only by the UAR but by the U.S. intelligence. And I tell you, Florie, that so long as you play around with Rom Landau, you are going to have the U.S. intelligence on your back and watching every moment. They are not going to countenance a Mosque where non-Muslims can give out tom-foolery and get away with it. You have a perfect right to believe in this man or anything he stands for, though goodness knows what he stands for, but it is not Islam, it is not objective history, it is not the culture of peoples with whom be has had but scanty contact.
The day of your Landaus, Watts and Spiegelbergs misrepresenting the cultures of Asia is over. The day of Academies of Asian “Studies” not permitting objective reason on real Asia, real cultures, real religions and real people is over. It may take a while for some groups in San Francisco and the Bay Region to wake up to it. The University of California at Berkeley is following Harvard in its East Asia and South Asia sections where they teach real history, real philosophy, real social studies, etc. They do not make up things and limit your right to investigate freely to see if they are right or wrong. And no more dogmatic insistence that “I am not preaching dogmatism” when it is nothing else but. That day is gone, Florie, finished forever. And I do not know when I shall return to San Francisco, but nobody is going to step over either my personality or the cultures of millions or hundreds of millions of Asians because they got degree in some obscure or famous European University or the whole bunch of them.
I lived in the house of the man in Washington who raised the funds, which made the Mosque there possible. I have met members of families who were his superiors in the oil companies who are in or near San Francisco and could and even might give a thousand or a hundred thousand dollars for a Mosque or school for Islamic studies and not for any private “Islam” which contain no element of surrender to Allah and which leave out whole dynasties of culture in Turkey, Egypt, India or anywhere for private reasons of their own, mostly because they have not studied these things themselves.
I took a trip around the world and reported to Ambassador Grady. Your “Muslims” would not entertain such reports—that was their way of “demonstrating” brotherhood. Mrs. Grady was a friend of the greatest Sufi leader in India, the late Hasan Nizami who had a million or ten million followers; he said the latter but the people in San Francisco and everybody around Broadway. St. chose to believe there are either no Sufis or no important Sufis, which did not stop some men who know nothing about Sufism from giving long lectures on it; or correspondingly in other branches of Asian culture. But Islam has gotten the worst of it and will continue to get the worst of it, until and unless….
The Mosque in Washington is intelligently organized by intelligent men who have intelligent ways of meeting intelligent people. There are imams in the U.S. today and my one meeting with them indicates that they are sincere, learned and open-minded. But if one comes to San Francisco and is going to be changed all over the lot by ignorant men who don’t know what surrender means, you can wait and wait.
Officially, I say, officially, it is know by scores if not hundreds of big men in the UAR that I pray, before, during and after the tasks they have set before me. Every one of these tasks which merits it is also presented to the proper American authority. I am working at a great rate and all these things which were rejected, chiefly a priori by ignorant egoists, have been accepted here. Today I was deluged, absolutely deluged and I have written reports to some very important people in the S.F. Bay region. These people are both wealthy enough and wise enough to know that the best way to stop communism is for the American and Muslims to become friends but they are not going in give a red cent (these are quite different people from those referred to above) to any Rom Landau whom they know too well; or to people who call themselves “Muslim” and accept neither intelligence nor information. I am pretty sure a lot of people of when you have hardly heard would come out of their shells to welcome a real Imam.
Once I took Bashir Minto to social gathering, mostly of people from the Bay region, important people, and he met more persons and more money in half an hour than he met all the rest of his time in San Francisco. He had the Mosque in his hands, but some of your “wiser” persons got rid of him and it, and they will into accept the open report of a San Franciscan, whose family had for four generations lived in Central California and so picked up some acquaintanceship with all kinds of people in that area.
And it is about time to stop studying the print of Holy Qur’an and apply it in daily life. I don’t, I won’t succeed in San Francisco, just as I have, if anything, over-succeeded here, and in everything, everything I have ever wanted to do.
To meet a people, love them, greet them, eat with them, joke with them, be one of them, respect them, it is very easy. It is so very effective.
My relations with the Asians A.A.A.S. was far better than with the Europeans. “The Integration of the Ancient and Modern in the Solution of Indians Problems” might have been an outstanding work anywhere. Satya Agrawal thought so; Uncle Louis did not. But the approach in that paper has been usably here, only being a Sufi far more than a Yogi, it is simple to establish a heart feeling. There are a lot of Sufis in high places and also in the sciences in which I am engaged. I understand that Monday one is specially calling to see me at the Vegetable Excremental Station, though he is employed by the Agricultural Department of the University of Cairo, which is new one of my hosts.
I was very much surprised today be find an official car waiting for me and henceforth I shall be an official visitor. The work I am going in using Horticulture as a means of bringing Nations closer together has been highly commended. All my dreams hopes, plans have been accepted here. If not by the Egyptians, then by the Americans, and in many cases by both. I am consulted even on matters for which I have not much knowledge. But between training and prayer, which stimulates the intuitions, I have a facility and a faculty for finding things practically in books. Either the intense scientific training or the awakened intelligence might work, but the combination works much more rapidly. To many here, this is true Islam—calling on Allah for guidance and then demonstrating it. But though this happens constantly and often, it is not an ego-function and it comes by emptying or emptiness—not that blasted word “emptiness” used by the pseudo-Zen noise-makers but an actual process and experience. You know it because you can do it, not say it. Saying has nothing to do with it.
After I learned that my work in Horticultural exchange is highly favored by the UAR government we found Dr. Kemal Hussein at the Faculty of Arts, Cairo. We have met before. We are very close. He is a real authority on the real Moineddin Ibn l’Arabi, not the phantom whom Pakistanis and Rom Landau prate about and cannot possibly understand because they have had no training in Sufism. You cannot understand Ibn l’Arabi without a basic training and then experiences in Sufism. Once you have passed certain stages though experiences and enlightenment, the rest is comparatively simple. But when you have not, the whole thing is as complex as the newsman’s Einstein.
I have worked for Dr. Hussein my “Saladin.” My study of literature in libraries in the U.S. and some of the materials turned down in U.S.A. and accepted here, the nature of which I shall not explain now. Anyhow I am to call at Dr. Hussein’s home Tuesday, and my calendar is being crowded what with Hindus, Arabs and Americans all having me in tow. I am not and may never again be outwardly the person I was in San Francisco…. You will remember that I was ready to explode that night at the World Affairs Council. I made friend with all those speakers and have followed it up. They were, thank God, Americans giving us information on Asia and not Europeans giving us misinformation.
Outside of the above I have received the final commendation on my plans for introducing American philosophy into the Orient, using some names and their teachings which will be acceptable. Several of them have already been approved by the state Department in their list of recommended books to the personnel in the Foreign Service. This makes it easy for me.
Dr. Malalasekera is now in New York as the Ceylon delegate or rather head of the delegation to the U.N. I have written to my colleagues in New York to contact him and also to try to get meeting so he can tell our people something about Buddha. We have so much “Buddhism” and so little Buddha. I know how he thinks and feels here and I know he is not enamored of our European “authorities” on Asian faiths. He has had his experiences. He was not given a full showing in San Francisco, being overshadowed, so we really do not know too well what actual Buddhists think and believe.
Now I return to the communication, which you say comes from Dr. Tamini. He has asked a lot of questions, which he does not want answered. He has asked them and apparently emphasized them only to pass them by.
I am absolutely opposed to separative Islamic movements. I am in favor of cultural exchange on a large scale. This cultural exchange ought to have its roots in devotion, but its branches and leaves should extend far and wide. I shall function, inshallah, where I shall not be bound by a small group who talk about Qur’an and Hadith but never examined closely Qur’an and Hadith. The study of Mohammed the man is neglected. The study of personalities who were important in history is neglected. The prophet may have said over a thousand times, “Seek wisdom even as far as China” but the disciple knows better. He does not want wisdom, he wants a Mosque. All right, he will keep on wanting and waiting. I have soon so many so-called Muslims cry and at the same time be unwilling to change themselves. If one will not change himself he will never find change. No one has the right demand this from another.
I am in UAR seeking wisdom and devotion. Your president, like his predecessors, cries for money and not to Allah. Between the Allah-worshippers and the money worshipers or Mosque-worshippers there can be no meeting. I can worship Allah anywhere. The Prophet did. The so-called Muslims have to have a fancy place. I regret that my conclusions are that Dr. Tamini is a well-meaning but very ignorant man. He states. He does not pray. When you have a leader who prays more and states less, it may be possible for Allah to answer. He is given no chance.
In my life he is given a chance every minute and the answers are pouring in thick and fast. I may be succeeding in establishing much good-will between the U.S. and UAR inshallah. I shall be interested to find out what the Friends of the Middle East and World Affairs Council have to say. But I know what the Foreign Service is saying all ready. I can only end with praise to Allah, Alhamdu lillah.
Samuel L. Lewis
My dear Harry,
When everyone is agog (or are they?) over the election, I am having some problems in adjusting my own emotions. I have air-mailed you that all the plans I have had for this country have been accepted, and I am taken very seriously at conferences. Today I met an expert whom I am told it is very important for me to contact; he was ill last week but he may be of help in showing these research stations how to organize and function. Oh yes, they conduct their field and pot experiments all right but they have very little or no office training.
There are a lot of other problems here. I found the answers to five of them the other day in California Agriculture, the monthly. The other is about C. dactylon. This is a cold war in itself. I glanced through a book Sudan Agriculture in which it showed that in that country it was the most valuable forage crop. It is no.2 in India. And here it is No. 1 curse and then some. Ralph Raymor seems to have done some work in this field, but I have no addresses for American firms dealing in agricultural chemicals and my first efforts have been somewhat in vain. The man whom I was supposed to meet today did not show up and if I do not see him soon will have to make a special trip to the Horticultural Society nearby. I should prefer otherwise.
I also reported to the Consul-General today. I told him portions of my rejections and added that many of the people who turned me down—without an interview—I don’t mean turned me down but refused to see me at all—are collecting tax –exempt funds and getting away with it. One of my most influential friends told me that the Americans were getting some awful set-backs because of competition between groups organized in theory to promote better Asian-American relations and generally ended with such bad Asian-American relations that the Asians became antagonistic toward the U.S.A. all around. And I have in mind particularly the group that was busy jerking tears and collecting funds in the U.S.A. for men expert in fertilizing and spraying. They have some nice officers and secretaries in Washington, D.C. Period. Period. Period. And no income tax—and nobody here ever heard of them. And this is just one. I have a whole list of groups given me in 1957; not one answered my mail and not one recognized as doing anything abroad. (Maybe better than starting a new religion!)
Well the other say I met Dr. Asaumi, Cal. ’42 and I think I told you he presented a number of things he was interested in, particularly new crosses of Citrus and Coffee and spices. I’ll try to get these later from India. He introduced me to his staff and on the next day Dr. Warid took me around the Vegetable Gardens.
Unfortunately most of the crops had been harvested. We had a long discussion on Tomatoes which will make a letter to Ohio State important. They are looking for long season, firm fruit with taste. The size may be secondary and they do not want to bother about trellised, stakes, etc. They are also troubled about spraying because they do not want to poison the fruit. I have still to follow up the “Imte” article about lures and I was also promised an introduction to the Entomological Dept. which may know something about biological controls.
As at the Dokki Station the Cabbages are also bothered by the Cotton Moth but they told me that Dieldrin has been a pretty good control, and on the whole this is not so bad a problem.
Their main difficulty is with watering. They irrigate and irrigate heavily. But all plants get the same program. Many do not know water requirements and I saw no sluice-boxes or gates in the fields. I have not seen Paul Keim who knows about these things although I have twice called at his office. The Grapefruit were being flooded. They do not know too much about Tensiometer and Lysiometers and those that do have none on hand.
Cucurbits, Okra, Peppers and Legumes are also grown. They would like to get some White Harvester Beans. A good deal of the work there was in cross-breeding. This brings up my own problem whether I should go back to university of grab a piece of land and work it or what. It is too early to predict. If my friends in Southern California recover their estate, I may go there and work; if not, I feel inclined to stick “close to home,” although actually one feels the pulls of Berkeley, Davis and UCLA.
The main problem, as I saw it, is the large number of daylight hours. I have reported that the Plant Physiologists at the Research Center were working on this. But all crops receive long daylight hours in this section. Up by the Mediterranean they do have fog. They are also having trouble with Artichokes which do not head. I do not know whether this is partly due to too much sunlight and also the lack of minor elements which they need—and which they certainly do not get here. The high pH may be a factor but that I do not know. There is some NaCl in the soil there.
My next report is on the visit to the Fruit Section with Dr. Harry Salim. After I make these notes I have to recopy them for the University and Ministry of Agriculture. The entrance to this place has a fine hedge of Lantana. I have reported before of the contrast in the use of this plant here and in Hong Kong, where it is a poisonous wild flower. It is like a perpetually blooming bush, very effective.
The first plant I saw was the Castor Bean. Today without looking at its contents I picked up a book Advances in Agriculture 1958, and am reading it. It has a list of material on this subject which I will crib and get by. “You know me, Al.”
The main work in the orchards is with grafting. P. mariani is the chief stock plant. Boy, did I make another speech on the Catalina Cherry. How about putting the Prunus in the Lyon’s den? That’s a pun, son. But I really think you have something here and I am not letting it go. Just as if I were your bulletin.
There is a lot more work being done with the Pomes. The LeConte Pear is the chief stock plant. They are doing a lot of working in X-grafting, or double-approaches with the result that a crop is grafted back upon itself. Experiments are here done with Apple, Quince and Pear and strange results are found about compatibilities. Their main discovery is that young shoots make the best stocks. I saw all kinds of efforts. The best ones were with young plants in plastic bags containing peat moss and a sort of aerial-approach graft used. After this takes effect, the stock is planted.
They have a P. shobra which has weak canes, though it is a local plant.
They are doing a lot of work with Mangoes. Inarching seems more effective with them than grafting. They also have left some LeConte Pears grow up by themselves. They become tall and scraggly. At this point we walked around a lot. They had me taste a new citrus fruit, cross between a lime and Mandarin, somewhat tart, but it looks as if it will make am good drink. They are also using dwarf lemons as stock for all kinds of grafting. Also I had some fruit of a Cumquat cross, which looked and tasted like a Cumquat but far more profuse. This tree, however, they said was an ornamental. They have no Loquats or Avocados.
My next host will be Dr. Shushan who graduated from Ohio State. Soon I will be in the Ornamental Gardens. The work on cross-grafting and double-grafts also interested me so much I forgot to take notes. In the Prunes, this double0grafting overcomes incompatibilities, especially when new wood is used.
My affairs in other fields just as progressive and important.
November 11, 1960
My dear Harry:
This is written under very trying conditions. The mental and emotional pace has been too much for me and yet more is expected. My body did not take it and I have been slightly ill. The only other complication, and one runs into it everywhere is this. 1. You sit with Prof. Flower grower and you make a long report and everybody accept it; 2. You see with Prof. Philosophy and you are lucky to find somebody who will listen to the report.
I was in the Indian Information Office today and read a speech by Dr. Radhakrishnan wherein he pointed out that the scientists of all nations were exchanging information and asked why could not the same openness exist between other classes. I can assure you, that quite aside from Zionist and anti-Zionist politics, etc, there is little objectively and a Prof. Zarchin will probably give a much better course on Egyptian history culture than a non-Zionist or anti-Zionist who get his credentials from some imaginary important European University. All over Asia Harvard credentials details are far more important than those of Oxford, Leiden, Heidelberg and Spitsenberg, but this is not the American(!) view. Egypt has a tremendous amount of culture and history to offer and can’t get it accepted.
In the horticulture field there is extreme abjectly and cordiality on both sides. But I have to make at least 10 copies of my field day diary. I am making a carbon of this for both Horace Hair and Bill Hitland. Then I make another set for Prof. Moyer, Kiplinger and Cutright of Ohio State; then I make another set for the Ministry of Agriculture, Cairo U. and the Department of Agriculture at Cairo U.
My host the other day was Abdul Alim Shoushan who matriculated at Columbus where he learned something and is putting it into practices. We had some long discussions and must meet again. I shall try to break these discussions down.
Literature: I shall be sending you under separate cover at least four of his bulletins. I wish to read them first, as one of them, the photo periodic in Viola odorata, intrigues me very such. I may of course, get other copies, I wish to give these to you personally and you may wish to keep them personally—that is your privilege. The discussion over the subject matters involved were so interesting I think we must have talked a long time.
Bulbs: This was connected with the above. There were two subject involved; (a) The production of a maximum of flowers for the market; (b) The spread of these flowers over long periods of time. I presented him the California picture of the Spring Bulbs, Autumn Bulbs, and Gladiolus watsonia in between and somewhat more variable. Here, on account of the temperature and absence of rainfall, the use of lath and shade is much more important. The Glad season in particular seems to be varied, but the rest-habit of bulbs has produced some problems that need investigation and this is the subject both of the Viola bulletin and the work now being conducted in bulb research, generally. Bulbs here include Dicots also, but mostly of course, Monocots.
Marda. This is a new complete fertilizer patented by Prof. Shushin. It contains N, K, P, Mg, Mn, Al, Fe, Mb. There is plenty of Na and Ca in the soil with its high pH. One uses 1 kilo, to 200 liters of water—it is entirely solvable—for 1 acre. I hope to get some and if so will send it both to you and Bill Maitland.
It is sprayed on to the leaves and rather weakly then strongly, often than seldom. He has found this leaf spraying very affective and I was able to detect it at once, after only one application, when I went into the gardens. Ch, he tested me all right and it was very easy to discern.
Situation: The test gardens are on the other side of the road from the fruit Orchards where Lantana is grown. There was an excellent clipped hedge of Melaleuca, a narrow leaf type, which I regret I did not identify in our speed. The gate has Clerodendrum splendens which blooms in December. I know you are interested in this genus so will report later. I remember, it is M. ericafolia.
The Roses. This is an important crop for the Orient. Prof. Shoushan is experimenting with them, changing the rest periods by application of complete fertilizers and transferring them to cold frames with southern exposures in October. In this way he is getting or expects to get continual blooms in the winter. 100 blooms sell for 30Ps. in summer, 300Ps. in winter. This corresponds to 65c and $6.50 respectively. Indeed this section is self-sustaining as it operates a wholesale nursery for the flower markets.
Somewhere along the line here I met Prof. Murtaz el Cindy who says he can take me on field trips to nurseries and flower fields, on mutual convenience.
There are large satisfactory plots of geraniums. He is growing Pelargoniums under care; they are not blooming now. Morning Glories and Bougainvilleas are the chief vines, and they form solid masses. Canna were grown in the ditches here—not Cacti, which I have seen elsewhere! The Canna are much happier.
There were extension plots of Violas, Asters and Chrysanthemums. Mums are placed in pots, 3 parts Nile silt to one part of manure. The manure is a mixture of cow and pigeon; the higher the pigeon component the richer the soil. Schinus molle grows around this garden. S. terebinthus was in the tree nursery which I visited later. There were also beds of Stocks which I did not visit. They are in perpetual bloom here.
I have also met Dr. Abdul Rahman Gazfar, the head of this section, who has offered me all courtesy and cooperation but has many conferences.
The lath house was divided into two sections, one for trees and the other for herbs. The trees included Salix, Casuarina, Cupressus sempervirens which is also outside in extensive test beds. But when I mentioned the Acacia, he said they were trying more and more species of this tree. I have told the Australians that I wish to visit their Embassy to discuss introductions of some of their trees—which is, despite E. globules, on a very small scale. I think they ought to grow Eugenias here.
I would also like to see F. velutina, Fremontias and Gazanias. They could use more Fuchsia. They grow Amaryllis but I have not seen any. The Hydrangea tests particularly interested me. Of course the soil is very alkaline but with Dr. Shoushan’s fertilizer referred above, and containing Aluminum, one might see better results. There is a tendency for them to “resort to type”—i.e. that mixed green color which resembles relatives.
Dr. Shoushan got most of his training from Prof. Chadwick and I should say in this first visit and going over the pamphlets which I shall send, the Ohio State influence is very great.
Now I have to recopy for that institution, etc. Both this department and the University head office have planned field trips for me. I cancelled my Damascus journey because of the terrible information service and am glad because my program is full, but I expect to go to Luxor and south just as soon as I can make arrangements.
The notes here are incomplete. I get over-interested or enthusiastic and forget to take them. It would be even worse if I had a camera, but if this were possible, what books would be forthcoming! However I have been promised pictures or even the service of a photographer. We shall see.
This is my diary entry for this day and it will be amended if a letter arrives from you or there is other news in the mail.
I’ll start in with the negative. The news from S. Vietnam does not surprise me. A number of years ago my dear friend, Robert Clifton, was in San Francisco and he gave me a lengthy and objective report on South Vietnam. I placed this before Alan Watts and the State Department and they brushed it aside. I later visited that part of the world and saw Clifton again, had my own direct experience, and he visited me in S.F. in 1959. The establishment of a Christian government on Buddhist people does not go well with those people and then when that government is corrupt as well, the U.S. gets the blame. I am not surprised at the revolt, but cannot predict the denouncement. It is certain that we have not regarded the Vietnamese as equals in anything and they don’t like it.
On another plane something like that is going on here. The news in Tunisia stormed the Americans and now the Algerians are doing the same. We give them food, culture, morality, kindliness, but do not give them reciprocation. We do not take old civilizations and cultures seriously and we ought to be taking them very seriously. At the moment, being far away and with the Alan Watts type being the “authorities” on the Far East, we can expect more of the same, even in Taiwan after a while. We let everybody but the persons concerned explain their predicament to us.
The other evening I was with Prof. Hussein and he gave it strongly about the Americans who are permitted to offer their culture here but the opposite is not true. According to him the UAR is not considered as an intellectual equal. He considers this Nation as an intellectual equal and literary superior, but scientifically and technologically much inferior. He wants reciprocity and reciprocity is about then last thing that seems to be offered. Like so many others he greatly deplores the type of “Islamic Philosophy” taught in America, historical repetitions of names often forgotten but no consideration how living people think and eat. It’s the same stuff all over. It is either Zionists, some of whom at least admire the historicity of the great and ever great; or Europeans who don’t. The exclusion of large areas and levels of culture and history is bad enough, but the efforts to fill in these gaps have become a useless one, with a few noted exceptions like Harvard.
The next day I visited the Egyptian library and picked up a book on Sudan. What the writer said about the Sufis and Dervishes in every way contradicts the “text-book” they use here on the subject. The writer had the audacity, the gall, to go and visit the Sufis instead of writing about them in his pipe-dreams, which is usually done. He found them of course. Because of multiple memberships one can “deduce” that there are more Sufis in Sudan than male inhabitants. But of course, if you want to pass your exams in American colleges you had better not read such books. Stick to the “authorities” who write in libraries and never visit the people.
Now the non-living Sufis who are beggars and parasites have invited me to En Shams University which is my next adventure. On top of that the Cairo U. and Ministry of Agriculture is so satisfied with my work, they want a special report which they are getting. I may stay here longer than expected; I feel I shall be coming back some time, inshallah.
November 13, 1960
My dear Florie:
Allah is no doubt the Merciful, Compassionate, Beneficent, but that does not prevent the acceptance of Truth. So long as we accept personalities, we either cannot accept truth, or we are putting bars before somebody or before ourselves.
Last night after I wrote the preceding page I went for a walk. Before long I was engaged in a three-way debate over religion. A Christies attacked me from one side and a “Mohammedan” from another. In such moments I have more wisdom than knowledge and more wit than wisdom as if Dolin and Allah were both with me. I asked the Christian. “What name did Jesus use when he prayed to God?” “Jesus was the son of God.” “I am not arguing; I have asked you a question.” I kept on repeating it and he finally said, “It’s is a secret.” “Oh, you have a secret religion. I am glad to know that, tell me what is going to happen tomorrow?” “I bet you would not come to my church.” ᾀ?I will come to your church anytime you wish excepting tomorrow because I have an engagement tomorrow.” “My priest will convert you.” “No, I will convert your priest.”
The other man denied everything I said and then asked: “Are you a Mohammedan?” I yelled out very loud so everybody around could hear me. “No, I am not and never was a Mohammedan. But if you are a Mohammedan I am pleased to meet you because I welcome followers of all religions.” “What is your religion?” “To submit to Allah. I submit to Allah at all times and try to do his will. This may make me a Muslim; I hope so. But I am not a Mohammedan.” By this time the crowd was laughing at him too. He became meeker. “What is your opinion of Mohammed?” “That he was Rassoul-lilla, that he as a perfect man, and that his body cast no shadow in the noon day sun” “I am sorry. I apologize. I agree with you.” So we shook hands. That made me hero. I am sometimes afraid I am too near being a hero, at other times being near a saint.
Tuesday was just an impossible. I met a lot of scientists and nearly half of them were Sufis. Of course there are no Sufis here and they are all vagabonds and parasites. But I met them and I met some scientists who graduated from the University of California (more of them), and I met one who was like myself both a Cal. man and a Sufis…. It is all right. Some people around S.F. pretend to believe differently and want to believe differently.
So I met Yusuf Wali who, like myself, is both a Sufi and Horticulturist and a lot more doors are opening to me and for me. I hope I can take them. Yusuf Wali made some predictions and I think it will be so, inshallah. These predictions are very contrary to some common or uncommon beliefs you have met with about which I do not care a farthing. People are in confusion can only deny others. The real Jihad is to deny oneself and see that one’s heart is clean and pure. This brings me many friends. I don’t care one hoop whether the pseudo-Muslims, and the quasi-Muslims and the Muslims who don’t accept Allah will ever listen to me or not. I am no longer the least bit interested. My work is cut for me and I am too welcome here and I am having a lovely time here and that is that.
Someday the professors and “authorities” will accent a few facts of this life and look beyond their subjective opinions. But some of them are so nice and wonderful that it is better be listen to them than to facts and truths. And then the people elsewhere blame America and it will continue until America and Americans listen with open ears and open hearts to the stories of lands far away.
I have fallen behind in my diary notes and this being Friday, it is partially clear. I have an appointment with an American early tomorrow morning and then return either to Cairo University or to the Research Center.
Never let a multitude of facts interface with one good prejudice. Stick to the prejudice in face of fact and truth and then cry to heaven. I do not know whether you will see a Mosque in S.F. in a few years and I don’t know whether I can answer: “Why don’t we have two-way cultural exchange?” But a pleasant person whom we admire is worth all the information we can get from somebody we don’t admire and so Muslims never paid any attention to M. Mehdy or Mohammed el Zayat and may be this country is tired sending out men who are not greeted where they expect to be greeted. And the way the Muslims of S.F. acted when Dr. Shawardi was out there is a matter of record and any effort for certain personalities to wipe out the events does not wipe them out from the universe, or even less from Allah. But of course I have no intention of trying to convert Islam worshippers to Allah. I give that up.
This week I went to the reception of Ambassador M. Hussein who used to be in San Francisco and attend services also when Bashir Minto was Imam. He was very much surprised to see me here. The evening was the same as all diplomatic evenings; the guests rushed to the cocktails and knickknacks and nobody paid any attention to the guest of honor. The difference for me was that I knew the Ambassador. On other occasions I did not know the Ambassador or Prime Minister but just spoke to the lonely man in the corner and that was he. Anyhow we have a lot to confer about and I look for a long meeting or more next month. I have more things in my agenda that my acquaintances in S.F. would ever admit and as long as they wish to indulge in personalities and ignorance, that is their privilege, but they have no right to complain.
I was introduced as American Sufi! Wow! There being no important Sufis in the world (Landau) and there being no Sufis in politics (Grünebaum) I was besieged by more ghosts than any time in my life, intelligent ghosts from all kinds of countries who rushed up and greeted me in English and I had the time of my life and an easy entry into more Embassies and met all kinds of diplomats and Ambassadors (I was the only person present without credentials).
I had already gone to the Embassy to protest in no uncertain terms about this nonsense and whether you like it or not, I am now ready to go into the courts on this matter. On the one hand the vehement protests of one nation after another and one University after another that we do not have real two-way cultural exchange; and on the other hand the constant meeting of people whose existence is denied by “authorities” all over America, everyone from Rom Landau to Prof. Susuki who give out degrees and inflame Asians and if one complains it is too bad. But I have my finger on the pulse of life and the Foreign Service is finding out a lot of true facts which have nothing to do with intellectual “instruction” going on n universities and graduate schools outside of the Harvard and Princeton influences.
This evening I have an appointment with a Sufi (despite the “Muslims” and the non-Muslims) who is a leading scientist of this area and who has been seeking me out for two weeks to introduce me both to more Sufis and more scientists. He has been impeded by being transferred from one place to another so we could not get together before. And when I stop here I shall be going to Al-Azhar and I can bet my bottom coin that I am going to be asked about Islam in the U.S. I am going to say we have plenty of “Islam” in the U.S. but no “Allah.”
November 18, 1960
Dear Al and Miriam:
Adventure is where you find it and this is my diary entry for the day. I had no idea, of course, that my experiences would involve you or be of interest, and you will have to accept that I do everything intuitively.
This week I had one very strange day. A notice came from the American Express Co. that there was some money for me. A letter some form the bank, that in remitting the balance of my loan I had overpaid. I had paid up a one year $1000 loan in 10 months—which of course, increases my credit and facilities, a $500 loan at the first of the year—to insure my income tax payment, etc. Then my travel agent advised that my Karachi fare would be considerably under what I had expected. And so, with three bank surpluses, I felt I might he spending some more here.
In one sense this is the tale of Nathan the Wise who upheld Christianity, Judaism and Islam equally, and in another sense it is going to be that I purchase from the Jewish Isaac, the Islamic Farouk and the Christian Chris. Khan-i-Khalili is the real bazaar section and it is near the great Mosques, and especially the famous Al-Azhar.
By a combination of circumstances, Farouk, brother of the news agent at Semiramis Hotel, introduced me to his father who took me to Al-Azhar where I prayed with 3,000 others. Then he treated me to a shish-kabob dinner and suddenly it occurred to me that their place, called “The Garden of Allah” was one where I could spend some money.
They have a number of formulae for getting essences of flowers and plants. These essences are oils, not perfumes in our sense—no alcohol and perfumes could be made from them. I have refused allurements to purchase any perfume. But when I asked questions and they quoted prizes, I felt like purchasing six different bottles which are being packaged and shipped to you, with some information and instructions.
I do not know how long they will take and what use you can make of them. I understand that you can dilute them, dissolve them in alcohol, etc. There will be six one-ounce battles. You can either use them as is, or dilute or dissolve them, for marketing or for personal use. In any case when they do arrive I wish you would open all six and smell, etc.
It is my wish that they be disposed as follows:
1st choice for Mariam…
4 bottles—either the original or the proper derivatives:
Mrs. W. Wise Mrs. H. Galbraith Mrs. D. Schueler
575 9th Ave. Crest Bond, Fairfax 2200 Leavenworth
Mrs. K. Kraftsman who has two addresses, on Sutter and Geary respectively and who divides her time between them.
1 bottle for demonstration or other uses.
This may give you the idea for some direct business for yourself or indirect through somebody else. The whole thing may take a while, but it is not costing me much—about $10 and another dollar for shipping, $12 to cover everything…. As I may remain here for some time this may open a door although it was not my intention. Frankly I do not know what to do with perfume. The first two ladies are very old and dear friends and Mrs. Schueler is my foster sister.
Samuel L. Lewis
This morning I called on Dr. Paul Keim, loaned from U. C. for an evaluation. I told him that 75-90% of the people I talked to in the U.S. turned me down and now I am getting 100% acceptance. I questioned that I was that good. I went over every point of my ventures here and the nearest thing to a flaw was my favoring salt-water conversion. He thought that might be delayed.
I think I told you that you I visited En Shama University. I have two entrees there, one a U. C. graduate and the other one Yusuf Wali who wants to be my host hare and will come tomorrow afternoon. I just feel it in my bones that something will come out of it.
Damn it, Harry, or praise the Lord and alhamdu lillah, but I have a good angel looking after me. I think I wrote that the Vegetable Station gave me six problems and one day I found the answers to five of them in their library. The scientists know how to conduct experiments but they don’t always know how to use American literature. One of the best things I did was to take that course on Chemical Literature. This covers also the whole field of Agricultural literature.
Well, today I thought I would write some letters to one of the stations for bulletins. I went to my portfolio—all of us diplomats carry portfolios, you know, that takes the place of credentials—and the first thing I pulled out from some crevice a Monsanto bulletin with Randex for Crab Grass and Vegadex for Puralane. No we go back.
I was sent from one station to another to try to find the solutions for these problems. I visited the agents of the American firms engaged is selling agricultural machinery and sprays and get nowhere excepting socially—I met nice people and had nice coffee. They told me to go hither and thither. I went to the Agricultural Attaché and they told me Dr. Rodenhiser, who is a Plant Disease expert was here. The next day I picked up a book on agricultural progress in 1958 and he was sitting pretty, although he was then in Alexandria. But today after pulling out that bulletin I called on him and we had a nice visit. He is not over-optimistic because he says you have to use many applications to get C. dactylon, and one or two escapes, but then don’t I know—if I don’t know anything else, it is battling this lovely pest. So I am ready now to write Monsanto.
I have already received the Soy needs for the Vegetable station. This is a variety which cooks easily. The ones they have are hard like Lentils. Incidentally, doesn’t one of the papers have a column, “The Pulse of the Public?” Well, the pulse of the public here is Lentils. Ha! ha! and shoot me down.
The visit to Ain Shams took me through districts very finely landscaped, reminding me of a flat Berkeley—curved streets, curbed streets, islands beautifully planted, the best gardens, and long, long stretches of them. Indeed this city has more area devoted to fine homes than to old slums. I will try to see some of the professors in that area and get the dope.
Then I have one for Prof. Asaumi, of Cal. and chief over all the experimental stations of Cairo U. He asked me for Coffee, Tea, Spices. Well the other night I was invited to meet the Ambassador from India. The reception was exactly the same as all the others. The diplomats rush in, their wives rush in, they select their favorite drinks, then they sit around and gossip. There is always one lonely person and that is the guest of honor. The only difference in this case was that I know the Ambassador; in other instances I had to meet him. He almost fell over when he saw me. He knows what I am doing because we had long confabs in both S.F. and New Delhi.
We agreed not to meet for a month. I wish to go on a trip to Luxor and Karnak, and then on a field trip with Paul Keim above. During that interim I hope he meets with the Arab-India friendship league and then I’ll pull my “The Friends of the World” stick and get them in on seed exchange. I already have my introductions for India but this will make it official. “Aren’t we devils?” to quote Ralph Edwards, but look at the fun I get.
Yesterday I got back and am laughing. I was taken to Al-Azhar Mosque where I prayed with 3,000 people and then had a shish-kabobs dinner free. I asked what business my host was in and he makes an essence which can be used for perfumes. He has all kinds of secret formulas and mixtures. I am not going to try to wrangle any but I would like to get the lists of plants used. Some are garden varieties and some desert varieties. Whatever I find out. I’ll let you know.
There is a medicinal plant section at the University, or Ministry—they are next to each other, which I have not seen and to which I have been invited. Anyhow I am sending six bottles to Faverman Drug Co., S.F. These can be diluted with Alcohol to supply 60 bottles of perfume. There may be business in it. The cost is not great and the people have many American clients. The son of my host runs the news stand in Semiramis Hotel which I visit every day. You don’t use drug stores as hang-outs here.
This week no field trips. The director of Cairo U. has to stay home to catch up with office work, and Dr. Asaumi has been away. Also the staff at Cairo U. Plant Physiology section are all away. Tomorrow I go to Dokki to the Vegetable Section and possibly the Ministry. I have not even visited the Agricultural Museum yet.
I have a Diners Club Card which is good for one restaurant nearby. There is another one much further away with much higher prices. This place has a good reputation, excellent foods, and not nearly so high. I am told that the Hilton, etc. have big prices too, for poor food. Anyhow the Lord or the Angel was with me. I received a surprise latter that there was some money for me here; then the bank wrote I had overpaid my loan and had a much larger balance; then my travel agent quoted me a much lower price for my ticket to Karachi. So I can unload a little, partly in food for myself and more in goods from the famous Khan-i-Khalili bazaar.
I am a ”neutralist.” I am buying Islamic art goods from a Jew, of course; and of any jewelry or gold from a Christian and the perfume seller is a Muslim. I wrote to a friend that the jewelry merchant, an American whom I met in New York, also almost full off his high stool (literally, it is true) and then said, “Welcome S£. Your initials are S£ aren’t they?” you can see why I had to have a serious talk with Paul Keim.
But I now feel that all the things we have planned together are accomplished in principle here without exception though it may take some time to fill in the details.
There are two stores which sell Chinese and Soviet literature. I looked in vain for something technical on the Russians and finally found a book on Plant Breeding. What a shock. 75% of the experiments before 1917 and all before 1929, and the thing is utterly puerile. I turned it over to the Agricultural section at the Embassy. Tonight the N.Y. Times says Russia is way behind in Organic Chemistry. I may make a final check at the Research Centre or even at the Russian Embassy. There has been so much hooey. I am not impressed outside of Physics and that is not my domain anyhow…. May have some enclosures.
Pukhtunistan Times November 18, 1960
Owing to circumstances beyond our control the demand for the “Pukhtunistan Times” has increased enormously! If this continues we shall be in a dilemma for Pukhtunistan will gain its freedom!
What to do? We cannot give our country back to the Indians because it is against protocol to give any country back to the Indians. We cannot vote because we do not believe in elections, only plebiscites. We are unable to annex Afghanistan—yet and Afghanistan can’t annex us, because we look down on them—from our high mountains, of course. And as for Pakistan!
Puck Plucked. This is our favorite headline. Everybody hangs out at a drugstore, cigar store or newsstand. Puck, being a grand intellectual, he hangs out at the newsstand in Semiramis Hotel. He does not like the Hilton which is air-conditioned and they allow no hot air there. Puck thrives on hot air. Puck also thrives on newsstands and he can read all the headlines free—in French, English and Greek, but Arabic, la, which means no! Or Puck is caught.
“Today I take you to Mosque to pray.” “Sure.” So Puck shoes up. “No, I work today. My brother Farouk will take you.” Puck should have known better. That name Farouk is self-explanatory. But it was not easy. There are a number of guards around Semiramis and some of them owe Puck d’argent and some owe him money and some owe him courtesies. To go out with a native who has a guiding permit would be to put them in the dog-house and that is the same as the pig-sty here, dogs being second-class citizens, excepting poodles and dachshunds which rank slightly higher than humans.
So Puck met Farouk by tryst and we taxied to—no, sire, not the Mosque but “The Garden of Allah.” “My papa, he take you.” Did papa take Puck? Did he take Puck! So off we went to Al-Azhar with 3,000 others and prayed together and then some and Puck did the extra-rogatory prayers with his beads and established a lot of merit in the Islamic heaven and a lot of credit in the Islamic earth.
Papa liked Puck and Puck liked papa and we held hands. Boy, do you gotta hold hands here in crossing the street. If you don’t have a chain gang, you might as well give up. Well, after some adventures we did get across although Puck can’t explain and then it was suddenly time for lunch.
“Do you like shish kabob?” Puck had already been taken, now he was sunk. If there is anything that Puck likes more than shish kabob—but that’s a secret which may be told elsewhere. So we had shish kabob—which the Arabs, Circassians, Lebanese, Armenians, Kurds, Iranians, Azerbaijanis and a lot of others invented and their mutual competition saves Israeli because every time a war nears some confounded Zionist shouts: “Who invented shish kabob?” and the allies are soon at blows, and with all the others and there is no war.
Then papa disappeared. So Puck asked Farouk, what for sale? He might as well have given up! They have the essence of quintessence of attar of flowers, and one drop equals one gallon and then some.
Under ordinary circumstances Puck might have said no. On the one hand he had prayers and shish kabob; on the other somebody sent him money this week, and then the bank said he had overpaid and then the travel agent said he had overpaid and Puck had something to his supercredit 90£E or $200, over and above over and above, so he might as well unloose.
After the tumult and the shouting which should have been but was not, a package is being sent to San Francisco to one Favermann Drug. Co. which will know how to dilute it and sell at 1000% profit which is their business, not Puck’s.
After this Puck is going to ask names. He might have known it! Farouk!
Puck’s moral agony continued.
After that was over Farouk guided Puck to Onnig. Onnig has places all over and met Puck in New York. “Welcome $£, these are your initials, aren’t they? How well I remember. How do you like Cairo? Meet me tomorrow night at Semiramis, I will treat you $£.” Onnig is, well his last name is Alexinian. Puck did not mention shish kabob.
Isaac is Jewish and is the merchant from whom Puck expects to buy Islamic art goods. Jewish art goods he will buy from Onnig and Christian art goods form some Muslim. He told Isaac that there are synagogues here. But Puck is under some qualms whether Allah likes all this effusion, so he will go to Adonai and find out.
Anyhow he told Isaac the news that he has some money coming which he is so shamed faced to take, not having worked for it; he will share the wealth with Isaac—before Farouk and Onnig get it. But Puck think she is an incarnation of “Nathan the Wise” who held all three religions in equality and I guess we can go to Khan-i-Khalili bazaar and give Hebrew, Christian and Muslim an equal chance. Why not? As Karl Marx said, or something like it, “You have nothing to lose but your change.”
The African Problems. What with Congo and all that Puck met Dr. Dubois this week. He is an American Negro and came to study African Sociology, Allah and God and the Lord protect him. Dubois and Puck fell in love at first sight and immediately made an offensive (to whomsoever) and defensive alliance. Swahilistan Zindabad! After all the Swahilis: Africa: Pukhtus: Asia. They have a common language. A common culture, common sense, are just plain common and don’t believe in natural boundaries or policemen. So we love them. Although the Pukhtus claim to have the largest real, imaginary country in the world, there being no boundaries, nobody knows and nobody cares if Swahilistan is bigger or not. Just so long as the Imperialists don’t interfere, there is hope. The post-Imperialists come from Russia and establish iron posts, which are all right morally, of course, because you can make chains out of iron. The other Imperialists made them out of gold, which is wrong. The “Communist Manifesto” was issued in 1847 and then the capitalists discovered gold in 1848, just to show the depths of their iniquity, always conniving to do the worst.
The success of Swahilistan—where the people have intelligence—will no doubt react on the Congo, where they have not. For instance, we have to insert this ad:
Wanted: For the Congo, 200 stoves with demonstrators. If you cannot send all the stoves, please send the demonstrators. Since the Belgians have gone, we are getting very hungry.
The Lebanese and the Arabs. They are not the same, When an American goes to a Lebanese and says, “How much?” and the Lebanese says, “$10” and the American answers, “All I have is $4.98” the Lebanese will say, “All right, I take.” When the American goes to an Egyptian and says, “How much?” $4.98” and the American says, “All I have is $10?” The Egyptian says, “Wrong kind of money, you have to exchange it first.”
This is not all the news but since Puck has been plucked (and enjoyed it) he is too tired. His readers must remain unsatisfied.
16 Sharia Kamal el din Salah
Kasr el Dubara,
November 26, 1960
My dear Dominica:
The address is already known to you, but the hand is a different hand. I came here pursuing my policy of keeping a diary and writing the entries as a letter to some person whom I think might be especially interested. Today I seem to have a large and growing number of both friends and acquaintances all over the world. I am now sending out as many postcards as I can instead of Christmas cards, and in a sense, this will also serve as a Christmas greeting.
Briefly, I have found myself in a strange position here because nearly everything that I suggest is accepted and put into practice. This stands in strong opposition to my history in California where it was very hard for me to obtain even an interview. But almost from the start I was successful in making contacts. And it has not been so much personal magic or the perfection of my ideas as (a) I came as a representative of the University of California Alumni Association; (b) I had hoped to contact Sufis (dervishes). In both of these I have been entirely successful, alhamdu lillah, as they say here.
My start came from the beginning in meeting one Paul Keim, loaned from Berkeley, in charge of reclamation in the Kharga Oasis to the southwest. One introduction led to another, but often I bumped into former Californians, all over the place and mostly in my horticultural adventures. But the same proved to be true of Sufis also. So it does not make any difference to me what the reactions of other people are. I have done very well so far.
I had no time to go to the Pyramids until I had been here six weeks. Although a friend and to some extent a disciple of Paul Brunton, I did not find wonders in the great Pyramids. I did find wonders at Sakkara which I feel sure housed the ancient mysteries. I have talked to others, both Americans and Sufis and they reached the same conclusions.
I also believe that there may be many, many remains both under the present sites, and a little further along the desert just slightly to the West. Psychometry is not generally recognized, and I won’t push the subject. Nor will I state here what has been going on in my life and career.
I learned that it was very difficult to get rooms in Luxor after December 1st so I went down and spent two days there. It was very delightful that I found Californians all over the place including family friends who are on guided tours, covering the whole world—there seems to be a lot of that going on. The Luxor Karnak area seems to be to be highly “civilized” and advanced and I did not get much spiritual feeling. But I got even less that the fine art work was done by slaves.
Dr. Creswell whom Marjory knows, has written against book authorities on Islamic architecture and I feel the same about book authorities in Egyptology. Thus I was told that only the great Pyramid had rooms in it; this is not so. A lot of other things are not so.
My stay at Luxor was enhanced by my meeting more dervishes there also. I will not write about the Temples themselves. I am sure Marjory spent a good deal more time around them and has come to some conclusions which are more valid than my own, whether we agree or differ.
I did call on Dr. Hughes of the Americans Institute of Oriental Studies, Chicago. He also knows Marjory though he does not have any faith in Cayce and I guess he is the so-called “hard-boiled” scientist. It is very interesting because the Egyptian scientists are often as skilled but they are not the “hard-boiled skeptical” types at all. Indeed when I gave my views on Egyptian religion to the guide he not only agreed but sometimes had me tell the tourist. It was not “hard-boiled.”
I suppose another reason for my writing to you is to report that the papers here had headlines that “unidentified objects” were seen over several of the Central States, by millions of people. There was no explanation but just details that too many people saw them to deny their existence. There was nothing to indicate one way or another whether they were man-made or earth-made or anything; only to insist on the phenomena. You probably know much more about the matter. News is scarce here.
I am waiting for Grace Drummond. She was originally scheduled to arrive the first week of December. I have not heard from here. She will undoubtedly stay in near-by hotels. I have been using my Dinners Club Credit Card here. There is a fine restaurant (Grillen’s) not far away. But I also intend to repeat my Sakkara visit when she is here, etc. and may even go around on local tours whether I have been there or not before.
Of course I get to lots of places where others seldom go especially with the dervishes. I have been to the bazaars but there is a problem of shipping things. I have scarabs for Dr. Baker, both an ancient royal scarab and a modern piece of jewelry, but I don’t know whether I can ship them until I get to Pakistan.
I am going to a pretty full schedule in December the way things look—three California men all wanting to take me out to different places; now contacts here; and I have not finished going to the museums and places of general interest. I am usually the guest of the Bureau of Information, Ministry of Agricultural and University of Cairo.
I also visit the new National Research Centre where the topmost scientists of the area work and where I also carry on my horticultural exchange. I did glance through a few American books on “space.” Nearly all mathematics, and little physics and metaphysics. It looks as if they were more interested in conundrums than solutions and ignored very large areas of known information which did not fit into their formula. I don’t know when this will be overcome and doubt whether we shall have much space travel until it is overcome.
The township and propeller were invented despite all the mathematical formula and we travel far and wide. But they did not ignore facts. I still believe there are more in gravitation, magnetism and electrical fields than some of our scientists will admit. But here again you probably know more than I.
Wishing a Merry Christmas to you and whomsoever reads this I remain.
Samuel L. Lewis
December 3, 1960
My dear Harry:
The subject of this letter is “Landscape Gardening” but in order to make it clear. I shall have to relate some of the experiences of the previous week. I went up to Luxor and Karnak, which are on one side of the Nile; and to Thebes, on the other. The East side is called the “living side” which had temples and apparently homes; the West side had the tombs and funeral temples. This includes the celebrated tut-ankh-amon and the now being excavated tombs of Seti I and Seti II.
I had my picture taken in front of the Queen’s temple, but have used up some 30 copies and have no extras, sending them out as Christmas cards. I may have to get more and could send you one, or perhaps more than one them.
On the Luxor side I stayed at the Winter Palace Hotel which has excellent meals and I may come again for two reasons not connected with gardening: (a) I met dervishes; (b) the headquarters of the American Oriental Institute is near-by with an excellent library. Then I could take a boat-ride up the Nile, etc.
The garden at the Winter Palace is full of the same kind of annuals and some perennials which you have around you, especially in Summer. The chief difference is the use of Phoenix and Ficus as foundation plants. The laying out is geometrical and formal, but one is surprised to find even there, where the Summer temperature runs to 100° and more, that Roses thrive. Evidently some strains must be able to take the heat. The only difference is that I saw more kinds of Marigolds than I have ever seen; all the familiar types and more. And incidentally the Calendula is the chief blooming flower at the moment. (Today I may check on the Clerodendron because I call on Dr. Asaumi, formerly of U. C. and will be close by—if not today, then soon.)
More important is the Queen’s temple itself. It seems she was quite a horticulturist herself and sent to Punt, which is perhaps Eritrea for all kinds of shrubs. Chief among these is Henna which grows in that region both as an ornamental plant and commercial plant. The guide explained the flowers and the use of the fruit at a base for the dye. The flowers have a fragrant odor. Evidently it prefers a kind of warm, dry climate. It functions slightly like the Fremontia which is not known here.
The shrubs themselves are carried in baskets and pots. When I returned I visited the Museum of Antiquities where I was quite interested in the evolution of basketry into pottery with the transition stage of “basket-pots.” My interest is largely that of ceramics but the decision to first visit the temples, then the museum proved invaluable when I went to Gezeirah Park.
This park is just across the Nile from where I stay. I think I wrote before that its very propinquity kept me from visiting it. But Friday is the “Sabbath” and I sometimes have some spare time. When I went over there the police came up when they saw I was taking notes—I did not know that jotting down the names of flowers was a subversive activity, but you never can tell. Actually I will not give you the details, except to say that you are well acquainted with nearly all of them.
Gezeirah Park is landscaped in contradistinction to the ”botanical” types I have seen before—and not reported fully on. Phoenix and Ficus form the foundation plants. The lawn is Poa. I presume either Kentucky Blue or a near relative, with the natural concomitant that all kinds of other grasses get mixed up with it, but you do not have the cancerous C. dactylon creeping into the flower beds. The lawn does not take the traffic of even weather so well as C. dactylon, but is decidedly “greener.”
I noticed Geraniums, Gaillardia, Canna, Phlox, Marigolds, Salvia, Sweet Williams etc. There were lots of Oleanders and occasionally a Bougainvillea, trained as a Shrub.
But the main flowers were the Chrysanthemums—all kinds of them. At this point one could see that the pots used have hardly changed through the centuries and that the urns also resemble those of ancient Egypt. The small varieties were placed in simple pots, and instead of planting designs like one sees in front of the Conservatory, G.G. Park, the pots are laid out so to make geometrical designs and “rotary club” type welcomes! It is very neat and saved the trouble of placing the roots in the soil.
C. morifolium is handled differently, being carried in larger basket-pots, one bloom to each, and given tender care. They look fine and remind one of both Oakland and Japan. Then instead of the Marguerite-type bush, they have a near relative placed in ceramic tubs and put around as shrubs, but, of course, they can be carried away.
The stone work is interesting in that they use exactly the same kind of stones I saw at Karnak and Luxor. The paths are of a clean sand and the curbs are of a hard white limestone. The seats are of marble, finished, neat and kept clean.
There are two types of water structures—one evidently for children wading, made of finished tiles. I would like to learn more about those tiles, which are blue, the same being one of my favorites, and skillfully put in. The other type was a meandering, artificial pond which makes use of stones and cement and evidently will contain Lotus and Lillie’s—it is too new.
Two types of wood are need: finished wood for Pergolas and these contain electric light brackets; and also a lath-house, not used as a nursery, but covering the tool shed, and more for looks. I was surprised to see such an excellent lath-house at all because most of the functional ones are rough, but after all, this was a public place.
Then the use of rustic branches. They have a nice summer house and it is going to be covered by a Passion-vine. Sometimes Bougainvillea or a large Ipomoea (much like the blue Japanese types) are used elsewhere. People evidently like it for it was crowded. It was also a picnic day for many people.
While swings are mounted on metal structures, the “trees” for kindergarten age were of wood and not metal. I was surprised but the cost may be a factor.
I have watched some of the workman “finishing” stones and the skills they have with their comparatively simple tools is wonderful. I may watch more but my free time does not generally coincide with the working hours.
This landscaped park is much more popular and functional than the botanical ones. I should visit it again after the Chrysanthemums are removed.
For the rest, let me say that the news is uniformly good if not excellent. I had been told that there were several articles about me in the Arabic press and when I go around many people know whom I am. But when they put me down the other day (maybe “father knows best” or Harry) as a Yogi who stood on his head spinning, I did not protest, I got a long fat interview and probably will have a good write-up soon. Anyhow the whole Embassy discovered me also before I did and fame is increasing if not fortune.
Also there is progress on all my other projects, although combined they do not take half the time as those concerned with horticulture and the associated social life. Most of my time off is also spent with “green-thumbers.”
December 5, 1960
Today I started out looking for one Awad Khair, a Sufi and he must have a fine character as everybody smiled when I mentioned his name. He was not at either of his hang-outs but I was told he will be working early tomorrow.
Next I went to the Indian library. I am studying Indian philosophy more seriously than ever. There was as article in the paper the other day that I am a Yogi, etc. I went and tried to get a correction but the correction has not yet appeared. It is possible that I shall break out into print on a large scale. I have been told time and again that short articles have been published concerning me; there may be some truth in it as this was the first time I tried to make a check and it was true.
My poetry has been very well received, but it will take a while for me to get the complete picture.
I next went to the Ambassador’s home and asked for a long interview. He wants to see me but I want it to be “official,” i.e. something that will reflect to his benefit and so help UAR-Indian relations. I have all the keys in my hands. As there may be an Afro-Asian conference here soon I am not pressing.
Then I walked to the Pakistani Embassy where I had a nice interview with one Mr. Kibria, chiefly on the possibilities of salt-water conversion for his country. Our next item will be the utilization of salt-infiltrated lands in the Sind. Previously I had some trouble due to the officiousness of the clerk at the information desk, but today I went right past him and everything turned out OK. I think, before I leave, I may have cordial relations with these people.
Next I went to be Islamic Society which is close by. I gave Dr. Asaumi my brief on Islamic Philosophy and its relation to Plant Anatomy. He was very much struck by it and urged that I visit this society. Al-Azhar has been too slow—cordial but too slow. They were busy at the Society but took my card and phone number.
Today I received some money which means I shall get the things at the bazaars to send to San Francisco. I am not and cannot afford presents for many people. I simply do not have that kind of money. But I am sending things for display.
I have written to Clerk Kerr of the University of California telling him why I should have an interview with the Near East Department. They refused before, due to the so-called “Center” giving me a bad name. I simply will not stand for that. Anybody can turn me down—after an interview, but no more referrals.
I have been writing calling to the ridiculous situation of Dr. Spiegelberg praising Carl Jung in everything, bringing back a new “prophet for India” every time he goes. Koestler writing a book attacking these “prophets” and Jung commending Koestler. If this is sanity, I prefer to be mad. But the fact is that very, very few Europeans really get the gist of Indian teachings. You can talk forever and not be able to meditate or perform Yoga, etc.
Friday night I went to two gatherings of Sufis and have been invited to several more this week. The Tuesday invitation came from a Sheikh and I have not had time to telephone other people for appointments—kept too busy. The difference between the real-Asia that I have been seeking and the phant-Asia presented in S.F. grows greater and greater. Some people are afraid of reality and realities—this only reveals their own short-comings.
It would appear that I shall have many commission now to present Sufism in the U.S. and I don’t give a fig for all the European professors of Oriental teachings combined.
16 Shria Kemal el din Salah,
Kasr el Dubara, Cairo
December 13, 1960
Hozny M. Gaber,
Asst. Director, Islamic Center,
2551 Massachusetts Ave.,
My dear Friend:
I am visiting Al-Azhar this morning. This is nothing unusual for it is the very first place I went to on arriving at Cairo. I have been both to the office and to the Mosque, and to the Mosque both as a side-show and to Friday prayer. But today I am going to pick up my book and some other material so I can learn to pronounce Fateha and then other prayers in Arabic.
Alhamdu lillah, I believe that every single project I have brought with me to this country has been accepted and is in the course of progress. This covers a multitude of subjects. I have been the guest of the Information Bureau, the Ministry of Agriculture, Cairo University, especially Dr. Mohammed Kamal Hussein of the faculty of Arts, of dervishes, etc. I have been spending most of my time on these projects with little sight-seeing. Indeed I have been so busy that there are many Mosques still to be visited. One trip to the pyramids and a few days around Luxor have been the chief diversions and those for the sake of other people. Not only is the program heavy, but it is innervating.
I have been asked many questions about Islam in the United States. It is needless to repeat the discussions but there is an agreement on the direction, that is, to coordinate all efforts to harmonize with Dr. Hoballah and your good self. It is hard to make people understand here that not only are there movements like Kadiani and Lahore Ahmadiyyas, but there are many groups, calling themselves “Muslims” who denounce either so-called “Muslims,” set up independent Imams, or have none at all. And on top of that Islamic culture in the hands of all kinds of Europeans, not to say Zionists.
The last week has resulted in my name appearing in the newspapers here several times and a request for a detailed accounting of my doings by my hometown paper, San Rafael, California, and by my old friend, the famous Chat Huntley of N.B.C. Mr. Huntley is very broad-minded in his religious and spiritual views and we have never been far apart on other subjects either.
My grand epic, “Saladin” has been received by Dr. Mohammed Kamal Hussein but not by Dr. Mohammed El-Behay. The reports are very favorable. And today, after my newspaper interview, I may try to arrange a meeting with President Nasser himself before I leave the country, inshallah.
I expect to leave for Pakistan in February. The success of my agricultural and other projects seems to be quite possible, but I am not too much in favor of their various and competing missions. Ignorance is bad enough, competition is worse and this does not result in converts so much as offense to sensitive people, which they do not realize. The hope is to see Islam presented on cultural lines somewhere, and on devotional lines everywhere.
December 13, 1960
My dear Florie:
This afternoon I visited at least six Mosques. We went to Bab Zuweila, which has two mighty minarets, and a wonderful gate. The Mosque itself is divided into a courtyard and an interior, and they are finely done. I learned that one of the doors was taken from the Sultan Hassan Mosque which I visited later on.
In general I was struck by the colored glass work. It is very different from that of the Christian Churches, although the use of columns seems to have been derived from both the Christians and Greeks. The one I cared for least was the grand Mohammed Ali Mosque, very huge, ornate, with all grand ornaments, lighting, art work, etc. but no fine feeling. It is the mosque of money not of God.
This is built on the top of the citadel near the gates and wall of Saladin, which interested me. But today was Mosque Day and I did not bother too much about the other remains. The two Mosques which interested me most were those of Sultan Hassan and the Rifa’i which are opposite each other, just below the Citadel and are Sufi Mosques. I was told Sufism is taught there. It is certain, so far as I am concerned that the Rifa’i Mosque gave me the grandest of spiritual uplifts I have had since reaching this last. But one cannot impose or impress Sufism on anybody, and feeling is not well communicated through words.
In general these Mosques preserved fine wood carving also, and the Sultan Hassan Mosque is a grand example of Islamic architecture. I shall now read more about it. Nevertheless if I go to these Mosques—the Sultan Hassan and Rifa’i—it will be to pray and meditate, rather than to examine art and architecture.
I hope to meet one of the attendants who speaks English. All the people are Sufis and I had to turn one man away who was selling cards. I shall no doubt go to him some other time when I am not in a lofty mood and buy something but today I was in too lofty a mood.
This was fortunate because my visit to Al-Azhar was in some ways disappointing. I am not getting my “solution” for the San Francisco or American problems. Last night I was with another Sufi and we discussed many things; at length and one of these was the plural marriages of the Prophet. We went into this seriously and deeply and agreed, from logical, moral and historical points of view that the Prophet was right and Joseph Di Caprie wrong. But he does not listen to reason, he does not surrender and he has a name here. Even his treatment of Mohammed Abdu, locked at from one point of view in S.F. is different here. Abdu has a good reputation although they do not take him intellectually seriously. They say his heart is in the right place and I do not say this of Joseph. He has never learned the meaning of surrender, either to Allah or man.
As to Mirdad’s contention, he may have been right, there are some things hard to explain, which seem beyond reason or even sanity, yet are true. And if Mirdad proves to have been right it will be necessary to turn in other directions to fulfill his dreams—which may not turn out to be dreams after all. I am going into this matter in a few days. Islam cannot be taught in America by ignoring all Americans, American ways and most of all American Muslims. They may hold keys and I do not think this is fully appreciated here.
My dear Florie:
There is a tendency to neglect my diary when nothing too pressing or exciting occurs. Actually I am more busy because of rising social engagements and use of afternoons and evenings. The weather is not so hot now. I don’t know when I wrote my last diary notes so will go over some events.
Tuesday afternoon I had a guide take me to six Mosques. The first was Bab Zuweila which is supposed to be the place where “Khidr” appears. It was a fire historical building, with wonderful gates and two minarets. The landscape was excellent, with court-yard and fountain. Here and the next two mosques I visited I was struck with the stain-glass windows. But the other mosques were comparatively recent ones. The wood-word is very artistic.
Then we went to the Citadel and saw some of the walls of Saladin, and next to the very elaborate Mohammed Ali Mosque. This is for tourists. It is not a place for prayer or holiness. Huge sums were used and it outranks a lot of cathedrals for its ornateness. The one thing I gained was the “natural” forms in the marble and alabaster which resemble contemporary art very much. This I liked almost as much as I disliked the chandelier lighting system, more appropriate to a palace or theatre. Anyhow it does not seem to be used much.
Below were two mosques, the Sultan Hassan and Rafa’i which are frequented by Sufis. I did not stay too long as it was late in the afternoon when we arrived and there is no elaborate lighting. In fact they were closing the Sultan Hasan which seems to be more school than Mosque excepting on Fridays. But as the attendants were not only dervishes but speak English I wish to go again and perhaps take one of table companions with me. These companions are a young Hungarian, Czech and Persian, all graduates of Harvard—the one university which seems to be interested in finding out what is going on here.
Wednesday afternoon I had a long visit with Dr. Mohammed Kemal Hussein, of the faculty of Arts. We discussed, and I have taken this up again, about the introduction of Islamic Philosophy in the United States. My poetry is now in the hands of one his colleagues; other than telling me he was a big man he did not say anything.
I shall remain here two months more, being scheduled to leave on February 20 from Port Said for Pakistan. I am very satisfied with social UAR I do not see as the people see, but my satisfaction is based on long range views. The progress hare seems so grand that it overshadows the defects. I think these defects are in the persons or psychology and not in the political or social program.
I am not sure now as to how Islamic can be spread in the U.S. Although it is unsettled, the failure to get a program means that the same scattered groups will persist in the U.S. and the continuance of Pakistani efforts to make converts. However there are now in Cairo groups of visiting American Muslims of Syrian extraction, mostly, who have been aligned with the National Islamic Federation, which in turn, is allied with the Mosque in Washington. It is impossible to determine how many Muslims are so allied and how many are in splinter group. But the fault here is not in lack of wise leadership, the fault is in lack of leadership at all. Any kind of leadership would be acceptable. So I am wondering what happened when the delegates met Mirdad. We only heard his side of the story which was not favorable.
But the S.F. “Center” is in back graces. When a Joe Di Caprio criticizes the Prophet instead of studying Islam, he cannot expect to win the friendship of people elsewhere. If he knew a lot of the virtues of the Prophet, if he were acquainted with Hadith, it might be different. Personality excusing is in direct violation with the declaration of faith.
I am holding off any decision on the religion. If any ideas are given me I could accept them. But I have told the authorities that the Pakistanis wish to spread Islam and if they do, instead of the Arabs, the Zionists will gain a sort of benefit. I know a lot of Zionists—not particularly religious—who prefer Islam to Judaism because they are opposed to rabbi-ism and like the democracy of Islam and of course, they accept the Unity or God. The only thing that seems to stand in the way is the acceptance of Rassoul-Lillah Mohammed, and there was no great opposition to this. It is not Jewish renegades who object to Mohammed, it is the metaphysical people who don’t know from nothing.
With regard to Islamic Philosophy, that is different. The Center does not have to accept a cultural program, but the universities will and there has been so much encouragement along this line. But Islamic Philosophy has nothing to do with intellectual discourses by Von Grünebaum, Landau, the University of California or Oxford. What these men present as Islamic Philosophy does not tell about what people think and how they think any more than Thomas Acquinas or Duns Scotus reveal American thought. There is a very well delineated Islamic Philosophy, rather closely connected with, but not bound totally by, the religion of Islam. Even the leaders at Al-Azhar distinguish between the pure Islam, worship of Allah; and the so-called “Islam” which consists of talking about “Islam” and keep on repeating the word “Islam” which they regard as a grave detriment to the true faith and so do it.
The next thing is Sufism. It cannot always be distinguished from the above, but it is so distinguished in theory so I shall deal with it as a separate matter. Sufism is based on tarik, which might be interpreted as the path to God. But the term “path” and the word “to” may be misnomers, just as in Buddhism, one minds a lot of misnomers in the higher reaches.
Sufis are banded in brotherhoods. They have disciplines and ceremonies and most of all, have teachers. These teachers generally follow certain traditional methods, but there is nothing to stop any valid teacher from using the method of another school. So, many persons are disciples in more than one school. The Sufis have been accused of borrowing teachings and methods from almost everybody but as Al-Ghazzali said: “Divine Wisdom is based on experience and not on syllogism.” This alone makes all the lectures of Arberry, Von Grünebaum, Landau and the translators at California and Yale nonsense. They are telling people what they think, not what is. So long as Sufism and Sufi remain subjective figments of imagination, no matter what kind the imagination, one simply does not know what Sufism is; nor can he explain why even an American, versed in it, gets into so many social groups easily and automatically, and always opposite to the personal opinions of Englishman and Europeans who mostly don’t know what they are talking about even with a thousand university diplomas.
The Sufis form brotherhoods and a brotherhood beyond these brotherhoods. If one understands this final Brotherhood, it is easy. The outstanding figure, historically, is Abdul Kadir-i-Gilani, also known as, Ghaus-I-Azam, and seldom mentioned by the “brand name” professors. The simplest person in Islam may know Ghaus-I-Azam, but I never heard anybody give a lecture on Ghaus and even if he did, it would be very subjective and not communicable in a comprehensive manner. But anybody having Sufi experience does not even have to communicate, there is mutual understanding at the first meeting. This is hard for the intellectual to comprehend, he does not know true heart; often he has no conception of heart. Yet the heart people here include the topmost intellectuals of the land.
December 19, 1960
My dear Florie:
It was not my intention to write to you so soon again but the drift of events, rushing upon me in series like cloudbursts necessitates diary entries and I am sending a copy of this to Col. Everson. I simply cannot handle the opportunities which are placed before me, but intuitively I knew this day would come so I was psychologically prepared for it. I am breaking down the events of the past days into subjects so that when the time comes I can make proper extractions, though there may be repetitions in these notes and also of the events of the past days. I have not, in all cases, copied into my records what I have written people, including yourself.
Sufis and Dervishes. The stuff peddled in the U.S. becomes more and more non-sensical and dangerous and has nothing whatever to do with realities. Even the brightest names on the firmament, like Dr. Arberry, had better be erased if one wants to know anything about this matter. And it is more ridiculous to say that there are no Sufis, and that no leading citizens are Sufis than to deny the existence of the Masonic Order, for it is certain that the leading persons here as in many Islamic and in some Islamic Nations are Sufis and whether the man’s name be Landau, Von Grünebaum, Koestler or Arberry, we might just as well be discussing the kind of beings space-travelers meet as to give any serious consideration to what they peddle in this regard. No doubt Karl Marx led a grand parade by writing tomes from museums and by an extraction method which consists more in deducing from the writings of others than in doing any examination oneself. This method has long been discarded by scientists but is still prominent in society.
I went to three different dervish groups last week. I visited Sheikh Absalam Amarti twice. They meet in a very new and clean Mosque which is said to have been the property of the late unlamented Farouk. Now it is kept exceedingly clean and bright and there were about 400 people, or rather men last night. How many women meet upstairs I do not know.
Each “authority” on Sufism gives his bosh about it being “derived” from Brahmanism, Buddhism, Christianity, Neo-Platonism, Zoroastrianism, Sikhism and what not. None offer evidence and none consult the Sufis themselves. The Sufis say, and I believe them, that some of the methods are of ancient lineage and the chief difference is the substitute of Arabic, and Qur’anic methods for those in existence prior to the time of Mohammed.
But there is a scientific way of testing that nobody has looked into at all and I have never seen in any books excepting those of my own Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan. His works are available in English but with the exception of the World Congress of Faiths in England not a single “authority” refers to them. He was especially trained in music and his original intention had been to make a voluminous work called The Mysticism of Sound. This was never done and instead he wrote a short book on the subject.
The use of music by dervishes is far greater than even I had dreamed. I had thought, and I found quite different, that only the Mevlevis made much use of music. This is now, so far as I can find out, a decedent order. It is weak here and their methods were to sublimate through music, the elements of devotion and conscious self-disciple being minimized.
The different Rifai’s use slightly different methods with the same spiritual phrases. At the Siddi Sharani they had responses and antiphonies and they even sat in a way which makes me feel their might be Christian predecessors; certainly the Gnostics who have long since disappeared. The doctrines of the Gnostics were not appreciably different but they used Coptic in their sacred repetitions. It is certain that the two kinds of singing which I have heard at the Shadhili and Rifai gatherings are not at all like the usual Kabbic and far different from the Qur’anic chants.
If one had a tape recorder one could copy these chants and then have them analyzed. Then one could determine, as by methods they use at Northwestern University the qualities called cents in Sonology and by an analysis of these cents could determine the origin and relationship of such music.
Last night one A.M. Attia acted as my interpreter. He is a leading expert I cotton exporting and usage and travels to many lands. He has been to the Philippines and Ceylon. There, as in West Africa, the growth of Islam is a race between Ahmadiyyas and Sufis—both of who are discounted by certain of the so-called brethren, including the leaders in San Francisco. From this conversation he is quite a mind—a point taken up again below.
The lesson at the Mosque last night—which was a series of lectures, prayers and question-and-answer period, brought out a challenge against Sufism in the name of Orthodoxy. This will be taken up later but it is foolish for Sufism includes a lot of teachings which were on earth before the time of Mohammed and many of the institutions of Mecca, etc. are hold-overs from previous "revelations."
Art Tour. This was led by Dr. George Scanlon of the American U. here. I have against him and he will have to eat crow, that he teaches here there are practically no Sufis here and they are all parasites, etc. I have heard the same thing about Zen Buddhists, Esoteric Buddhists, Yogis of all schools and this damnable nonsense will continue until we look at people as they are.
I met a young Negro from Arizona and we had an argument with a pretty young girl, begging her to take her experience from life and not what she read in books. She got a earful. The authority on Islamic art is Dr. Creswell. He has upset the apple cart by denouncing all his predecessors and looking at the monuments. Scanlon is a disciple of Creswell and on the tour he did the same thing. He simply will not allow what is in the guide books, texts, or not. He shows you the things and he is, to my mind, just as right in his art—where he looks at things, as he is on Sufism—where he does not.
The girl had to go through some nerve shocks for Scanlon denounced this bookish, indirect method and showed us things one after another. It was a long, pleasant experience. My companions were all Americans excepting one of two who were the husbands or wives of Americans. One of these is a Coptic Christian and he wants to see me.
I told him I was particularly interested in the history of early Christianity in this region. This is a neglected subject. Despite the Dead Sea Scrolls and the recovery of the Gospel of St. Thomas, the American Oriental Institute has little on this subject and so far I have gotten nowhere. But this man took my name and address and I am hoping he follows up by bringing me together with some men who know about this. I also hope he will take me some time to his church.
Islamic Philosophy and Modern Science. I think I wrote the other day that I visited Dr. Hafez and he sent me to the top Biologists and Physicists. I have turned over to Dr. Nasser, the physicists, my paper on this subject printed by Aligarh University. But I am now able to go more deeply into this subject both from a scientific point of view and also from the Sufi point of view. I think I may ultimately write at length upon the Sufi interpretation of the Christian Bible. All of this grows out of Al-Ghazali's statement "Sufism is based on experience, and not on syllogisms." This invalidates all books by Rom Landau ad the Pakistanis on Ibnu'l-Arabi because none of the writers have the slightest inkling into the experience of Al Ghazali.
Salt Water Conversion: While I was with Prof. Nasser who showed me his labs (technical report will be made elsewhere), I showed him an article in “Time” on saltwater conversion. There I met Motouq Bahijig, Director of Chemical laboratory at Jidda, Saudi Arabia. They wanted my material on this subject, most of which has been turned over to the Pakistanis. But I have one article to type—which would consume some time. Yesterday evening when I returned from Abdin Mosque I was pleased to find a letter and more new material from the Department of Interior, Washington. I took this with me today but Dr. Nasser was not in. However I have loaned it to Dr. Bahijig for the night, anyhow.
Saudi Arabia. He told me a good deal about this country, its soil surveys, its growth of agriculture, the now dam at Asir, etc. We agreed that the trouble with his country is its unbalanced economy. So many people are employed by Aramco that there are not enough harvest hands. I did not wish to discuss agriculture with him too much but he gave me an introduction to his Embassy. If the ship on which I sail lands at Jidda I shall now go ashore, contrary to my earlier plans.
He insisted I was thoroughly misinformed about the non-existence of Sufis in his countries. Two persons have so insisted, who have both set themselves up against me in life and yet are deadly personal enemies of each other, but each knows the Ibn Saud family. Yet Dr. Bahijig insists that there are many dervishes at Jidda, where neither of those persons have been—and both are accepted as “authorities” in the U.S.
Mineral Resources: This interests me. They have discovered very valuable iron ore in Hedjaz, with heavy concentrations of both hematite and magnetite. Chromium and Lead have been found and some Uranium. No coal, but far more natural gas than they may need for some time. There are also valuable gem deposits as I suspected.
Archeological Remains. In the last “Scientific American” there is record of exploration on Bahrain Island showing an ancient civilization, a linkage between the Indus Valley and the Tigris-Euphrates. I told Dr. Bahijig I believe that Arabia has many cycles of early civilizations. He confirmed this with his own experiences, that he has gone to these cities mentioned in Qur’an. Unfortunately he could not get help from the natives who imagine jinn and wild animals. But in one city he found two layers and a silver coin of a very early date. He also said they found plenty of gold art. Nearer Jidda they have found very early Sabean or pre-Sabean writing on Copper revealing both the existence of writing and the existence of Copper. This was very pleasing.
Zem-Zem Water. This was the most interesting of all. We both agreed to begin with that Zem-Zem has some strange properties. His own researches show that these do not come from Sulphur, Iron or some Chemicals which we would imagine. He said that people can live several days on this water without eating and that it has healing properties—which I fully believe. He is bringing some to Cairo and will put it through micro-analysis which is not possible at Jidda. The water is natural and ha less salts than one would imagine, but different potions sometimes taste differently. I was very excited when I left this lab. And hope to see him tomorrow.
Biologists. I had an appointment with Dr. Afifi who was just opened up the Biological Control section of the Plant Protection Division at the National Research Center. To my delight I found he is also a Sufi—this is a subject I am going to mention and mention and mention for the record. We did have a discussion on this but I did not go into details on the philosophy.
He told me Dr. Hassan Salah was in—this is Asara’s friend. Well I found him in. We have been trying to get together for a month. He also got excited when I mentioned the Zem-Zem water and has evidently been to Mecca himself. He told me it had Magnesium salts and some kind of radio-activity which was healing but he doubted if you could measure the radio-activity, for by the time the water would be transported to Cairo much of it would disappear. As I am also to meet Dr. Bahijig tomorrow, in another floor of the same building, he asked me if a meeting could be arranged. I shall only be too pleased. But I am also hoping that Dr. Hassan will take me on the trips he was suggested.
I shall also have to visit the Entomology Society for literature and will send this or a report to my friend, Harry Nelson, at City College.
All of this seems to be too much. I had hoped to pull in my horses, but intuitively I know I would be busier than even. I am hoping now to get some financial help, as much in the way of a grant to traveling companions as for myself. I am now way in, over my depth, and yet there seems to be no way out. Yet this is just the opposite of earlier in life where everybody turned me down.
I suppose at times I seem almost vengeful but I am tired of hearing the United States called “imperialistic” when we are helping so many countries with aid and information and will continue, inshallah. It is the countries that are opposed to us that do not, even cannot supply real help.
Temporally I may conclude that there are great hopes in Saudi Arabia. There it largely depends on the financial policy of the administration and it seems now they are working toward a balanced economy. If the water reports I gave them are true, you may find quite a different nation within a few years.
Please note all that has happened in the last two days or less. I am afraid to go to the phone. I have bunches of letters to write.
Samuel L. Lewis
P.S. All this letter, which seems in a way, story-bookish proves to be even more so. I had sooner completed it than the telephone rang and Dr. Nasser, referred to above, says he is coming to see me. Anything that may transpire will have to go into a later record.
December 20, 1960
My dear Paul (& family):
This is not a letter. It is my diary entry. I make the entry by writing to somebody on the events which may interest them and this means that my correspondence and diary are done together. Anything else is impossible. Not only have I been successful with practically all the projects I bought here but also almost all the things in my “salvage bag” have been brought forth and one by one they have been received too. It is fantastic. I am news. I have been in the papers several times, the San Rafael Independent has been asking about me and so has Chat Huntley who used to know me in Hollywood. Indeed in this letter are the germs of several news-items which contain grains of excitement accordingly as one is interested or wants to be excited.
I think I was here about a month when I first went to the National Research Center. It has four divisions: Agriculture, Medicine, Chemistry and Physics; and two sections, a coordinating-manuscript-document; and one for handling equipment I first visited the manuscript section and have both used the library and have had things I brought Photostated. Most of my visits have been to the Agricultural section where I have at least one friend, Dr. Hasan Salah, in Plant Protection, also a University of California graduate.
Twice because of apparently unabated success, I visited Paul Keim, also “loaned” from Berkeley for an evaluation and the only thing I decided was to take my salt water conversion material to the Pakistani Embassy at this Paul’s suggestion.
My four different areas of horticulture, poetry, philosophy and dervishes all succeeding, I jotted out my outline for the relation of oriental Philosophy to Contemporary Science. I showed this to Dr. Hafez, the No. 2 man at the Centre. He sent me to the chief Botanist whom I had already met, and to Dr. Nasser, in the Physics section. I have visited this section twice now, but am putting down diary notes rather than giving a real report.
His immediate office id connected with laboratories using infra-red and ultra-violet spectroscope. The equipment comes from Russia or Germany, mostly from the latter and I have now begun to check the equipment which I did not do before. In general it must be said that many of the scientists have had American training first and then German next. Indeed last night Dr. N. took me to the Jena-Zeiss office here. So far as I can see they have excellent precision instruments and I am becoming quite aware of lots of things I did not notice earlier—that the housing material may be important for several reasons besides costs and yet costs cannot be eliminated. All the lenses seem to have come from Germany.
This lab has been working on detecting Vanadium and Nickel impurities in Petroleum. The Petroleum found here is not of nearly so high quality as that in Saudi-Arabia. These two metals are causes of corrosion. In the tests, however, they do find Iron (which is only tested qualitatively, to see if present or absent) but also Lithium, Cobalt and barium which show up (if present) during the vanadium tests. I did not stay to the end because of the bright arc light and next time I shall bring my dark glasses. But I am more interested to see when they test for rare earths, etc. They also do differential quantitative analysis and so help the police out in crime detection. I must say that the staff works very well, with precision both in the handling of equipment and taking of notes.
There I met Dr. Bahijig, the leading chemist from Saudi-Arabia. He has given me rather complete reports on the agricultural situation in his country, the building of dams, the finding of rich iron ore in the Hedjaz and the search for other metals. This country is very unbalanced as practically all the skilled labor is employed by Aramco, to the detriment of other industries.
Most interesting to me was the fact that he is going to get some water from the celebrated Zem-Zem well in Mecca for micro-analysis.
I mentioned this to Hasan Salah who has also sampled the water. It is peculiar because it is absolutely neutral and yet healthful. Dr. Hasan said it contains Mg. salts and is radio-active. I have tried to bring the two together and this may have happened today.
Between my outline for the relations between Islamic philosophy and contemporary science and my interest in the UAR I was literally besieged by introductions. I have had this before and it is very difficult to take down names. And once you begin thinking along one line, you cannot operate as encyclopedia or library.
I showed these man a recent copy of "Time" with an article on Salt Water conversion. They wanted my material but I have given most of this to the Pakistanis. But the next night—or rather last night, when I came home, I was amazed to find a bundle from the Department of the Interior on this subject and I have taken this to them. I have these "fools for luck" experiences all the time and they add no end to my prestige.
Today I was taken to the petroleum Lab., where they also test for impurities. There I learned about Sulphur. This interested me because this is used in fertilizers and for my own part I should like to see S. spread on the land or H2SO4 added to irrigation water under certain conditions. I shall slyly suggest this to other sections. But the N-complexes are the most awkward requiring hydrogenation and cracking. I want to visit this lab again because I met one Lewis Hatch from Texas and we hit it right off..
There is another line of research which I mentioned but for which I do not think they have facilities. Someday I hope you will read Helmholtz on "The Analysis of Sound (or Note)." I think it is one of the great works of all time. There was a later scientist named Ellis who continued this sort of analysis at Northwestern U. Now I have heard all kinds of Dervish chanting. I originally wished to take a tape recorder with me; I cancelled it because I have too much stuff but then, at the request of a friend, I purchase one and sent it to India for a similar purpose.
There is probably not a single book in common use on the dervishes, but I do not wish to argue this point here. they have all kinds of chants and singings which few have heard and the musics, which seem to be of two sorts, are nothing like either the Qur'anic chants or popular Arabic music. If recordings were made, one could by scientific means determine the modes—which could connect them with ancient Greek and/or Byzantine music, or even with Armenian music (which has Semitic mixtures). Or if the modest did not come out, by the analysis in cents. The one could easily trace the descent of this music and learn something therefrom (in my opinion) of the history of the Sufis instead of depending upon unsubstantiated speculations.
We are already using C14 in archeology and I know how careful I am in the chemical analysis of ceramics and old metal wares. But this would be the adoption or adaptation of another scientific means to check the history of old rituals, and I doubt whether this has been done. I write it to you here because this was placed before them by me.
Another thing we discussed was my criticism of present day Space science. I hold that there are many errors being made in military-dominated experimentation through oversight of what they may consider unimportant factors, or just plain oversight. I am not particularly interested in this subject but have seen two recent works on Space Science and other than in the title you could hardly guess they were on the same subject.
(end of diary note)
December 23, 1960
My dear Paul:
There is what I call a “right” and “wrong” way of becoming friendly with exotic peoples. The “wrong” way is to attend courses of briefing or psychology generally given by a European on “how to get along with Asians and Africans,” the “success”’ of which I leave to any reader of any newspaper. The “right” way is probably experienced by any college student who becomes acquainted with other nationals, naturally, in the course of life, without any briefing. This method which I have used with extreme success has endeared me, evidently with Dr. Nasser who seems to have the keys to all the chemical and physics laboratories at the National Research Center here.
I came to him originally with my outline on the relation of Asian philosophies to Contemporary Science. I have found that my closest Egyptian confreres in philosophy are close personal friends of his. And I have been able, almost without effort, to get him American materials. This side of life I shall not explain here, but it always works. It has confused all the professors in the S.F. Bay region who lecture on Oriental subjects. Here, to get a job in the physics or engineering departments you have to know your subject, languages are secondary but English is preferred over the rest, Arabic second and French third. You have to know your subject. In California if a man knows Arabic he is empowered to lecture on Arabic philosophy, history, science and humbug, mostly the last. This applies to Asia generally and is the cause of much misunderstanding and quite obvious misunderstanding.
Dr. Nasser today first asked me what laboratory I should like to visit—X-ray, ceramic—he got no further. I visited the Ceramics labs first and then the Glass. I am writing down my impressions for diary purposes and you will have to follow them. I do not know what your understanding is and sometimes I may be way ahead of you and way behind. In any case an intelligent question opens many doors and today a lot of doors opened fast.
The Ceramics Section utilizes materials for three purposes: building, art and refractories. All of those have to be dealt with separately.
Egypt is largely a desert. This means that when soil borings are made, the materials are often assayed and otherwise tested. Being away from both civilization and vegetation, a number of pure minerals have been found. These minerals are subjected first to a number of tests such as chemical analysis, spectra-analysis, fusing, baking, strength of material tests and so on.
The most obvious use for many is for bricks, but this term has to be taken in a generic sense. The Bible, of course, refers to bricks being made in Egypt and they are made glazed and unglazed. They have been doing research until they have found very light bricks which have various properties such as heat and sound-insulation, etc. There are two ways of obtaining light bricks (by weight), one by finding light, porous materials, and the other by perforating them to the degree that they do not lose their engineering values. The ones perforated so far have stood all tests and indicate that further “holing” can be made, thus making them lighter still. I did not ask about the chemical analyses of them. The weight, tensile and other strengths, handling by labor and the arrival at points where one can minimize concrete, mortar and still is important.
They have developed a brick which can be “tiled” or glazed in the same operation and they are doing the opposite investigation here—seeing how large they can make them. Thus there are turning out some fine double and triple glazed tiles, which means less labor will be needed in building, and of course, housing is a problem.
While they are developing the triple brick on the one hand, they are also making thinner slabs of what serves as “artificial marble.” As they find many minerals and some of them are heavy, indented of them are heavy, instead of being light (by weight), they are developing heavy glazes, and again in one operation so that they have slabs for flooring. These locked to me offhand as being somewhat better than the Italian artificial floorings which I have seen so far. The glazing is very well done and one can clean a whole room in one operation by hosing, with a small amount of soap, cleanser, etc. This, of course, may not help the vacuum cleaner industry.
The advantage of both the bricking and the “marbling” is that the new houses will be largely insect proof. The glassed bricks are covered on both sides and will be impervious to both moisture and insects.
The personnel of this department is composed of graduate students who work 2 years for a master degrees. Then they go down stairs and work six months in the pilot plants, then three months in industry and are given three more months to write their papers for their engineering or Ph.D. degrees, the whole occupying three years.
The refractory materials are being given severe tastes. For here there is the problem of being able to duplicate, in efficiency, those obtained from Germany. The scientists are not so much interested in costs and economic factors here, as efficiencies. So they use a lot of testing. There are many for metallic cores. I have not yet fisted the ore- or metallurgical sections. But these are always used in the Glass-section which I visited later on and saw the complementary testing. The refractory materials are also given a glaze, both a lighter one in coating, but sufficient to provide absolute insulation, etc.
In this ways all the natural desert “sands” may find some use—here in building materials, refractory materials and ceramics proper; and upstairs in the Glass section.
The ceramics section interested and exited me the most. They are making all kinds of tile experiments. In this tile work they are not scientifically exact. They make all kinds of “crazy” operations with the furnished resulting in crazing or crackling or even running. My esthetic “soul” responded so much here that I do not think I remained so scientific, but neither did by host, Prof. Gadd, who also “bounded” emotionally.
Crazing seems to have come “accidently” in China but was developed to a fine and almost sterile art in Japan. This general program is followed. But instead of stopping with cracking, etc. they put on very heavy glazes, let them run, turn color or what not.
One of the most beautiful things I have discovered in Nature and have written a poem thereon is that the colors of each metal are harmonious esthetically within themselves. I do not know why. Thus all Iron colors—red, yellow, greenish, etc. harmonize with each other; so do all the copper colors, Reddish, Greenish, Blue and Black, etc. But the different colors within the chronoscope of each do not harmonize, even clash. In the case of Iron you have the Ferric and Ferrous, with Copper Cuprous and Cupric and these are complicated by oxidation-reduction processes, usually controlled, but in these experimental works purposely uncontrolled.
Thus I did see Cobalt, from which we get the best blues, coming out in pinkish hues. But the metal they are using most here is Chromium and the very word “chromium” suggests the metal of many colors.
Tile research serves a multiple purpose—how to get the best tiles, hot to get the best colors in tiles, how to get the best effects in tiles. The last, in particular, is used as testing for work on and with ceramics.
One can begin with the simple earthenware pots, and so far as flower pots are concerned you find little change in over 3,000 years. Yet side by side with the traditional pots, you find all kinds of advances and novelties in vases. The ceramics section is both a huge laboratory and huge playground. You go from very contemporary sculpting to very simple copying—imagination ancient forms and ancient figures, which I did not like; following animal themes such as were used in Eastern Europe in the last century—and then, bingo! You find non-objective forms, new forms—both of which often become utilitarian and others which I am sure would win prices in exhibitions of modern art. The forms follow all the processes of contemporary art, but are much better because there are color experiments alongside and it seems that the craftsman are developing wonderful skills in harmonizing their color ventures with their form ventures. Some of these things are for bazaars.
Out of them I see grand possibilities in dishes (to parallel the heavy Mexican and light Japanese and coming in between them); vases, small object d’arts etc. I have to presume here that you know something about colors and their relation to ionic and chemical formulae. The main thing here was the multi-image of Chromium and I find its colors seem deeper and purer then those of Iron, and the oxidation-reduction equilibrium or lack of it bring out such things as purer reds with mixtures of yellow, green spots as impurities which make the as pieces look finer. They have now reached a point of some slight control, this being a sort of mid-way house between the rococo art of Europe and the Jackson Pollock methods of the day. But the Pollock methods in ceramics come out much finer and I think there is a big field here for the future.
We then down stairs to the pilot plants where large bricks, slabs; blocks, etc. are made. By that time the apprentice is supposed to be able to control the experiment and the result, but there is always the possibility that the almost exact control of small things overlooks defects that appear in large blocks. On the other hand these large blocks, as such, are certainly used in building, and more than that in future building.
One of the big mixtures here, I think, has been the Nile-Hilton, which is by far, to me the poorest luxury Hotel I have ever seen. It is a travesty on ancient Egypt and offends the locals because it ignores their art and traditions and is a travesty on top. The floorings are cold and the whole thing has no imagination. The engineering—toward insulation and air-conditioning—makes you feel very comfortable, if you never go outside, but the thermostatic operations are toward the maximum of theoretic comfort instead of being between that and the outside temperature. In hot weather the inside should be 80°, not 72°; in cold weather, if it were 30° outside, it should not be more than 60° inside.
Anyhow I left this section with dreams for future artist, etc. They do not use organic or “secret” formula as in Marin. The object is to use their natural materials and build on them at the lowest costs.
The Glass section is more in utilization because, also, of the huge Coca-Cola industry here. There was a fine glass on Sinai but it had green in it or yellow from some slight Iron impurities. They have now developed a colorless iron, which I suspect comes in between Ferrous and Ferric—there are large magnetite ores in this region. There are also Aluminum sands and these are valuable because of their whiteness. The only sand materials missing are those of Sodium—which is surprising for as one goes westward there are heavy deposits of it—but far from the “sandy” reaches.
The Sand section is under Dr. Abu El Azam who got his training in Sheffield, England. Cores are taken from all sections and these must be of a certain size—larger grains being unsuitable and of a certain purity. Generally Iron it the biggest impurity so far. As I said, Al., Ca., etc, are not regarded as impurities.
In the simplest form Glass is used for bottling and windows. The window glass—we did not dismiss Lead and Sodium, is greenish* slightly more than the German which is slightly more bluish. But they serve the same purpose. However they are experimenting with glasses of various thickness and toward the use of glass as building material.
In going around the Mosques here I saw all kinds of’ color-glass but this art and industry has all but disappeared. Now they are making glasses of all sorts of colors. These follow formula. But the colors in ceramic glasses one can generally foretell from the nature of the ions, while in glass other factors come in, the nature of which I do not know. Thus there is the wonderful Ox-blood stoneware and porcelain and while you have Iron or Copper reds there, and now Chromium, in glass you use Gold!
This brought up another subject and that is the nature of non-crystalline matter. Dr. Abu El Azam gave me a short talk on the molecular structure and the relativity principle in vitreous matter as against crystals. He confirmed what I consider basic principles. Roughly speaking I find the vitreous-ceramic-plastic a curvilinear “feminine” form of matter; and crystals rectilinear and masculine. Changes in heat-conductivity, etc. are very different. An extreme examine of opposite behavior is that bimetals lose almost all the electrical resistance when super-cooled. The opposite is true of the non-crystalline matter, most of which is highly resistant but loses some of this resistance when heated. The most notable example is Edison’s discovery” of the Carbon arc lamp: that this element becomes a conductor when heated.
Our final discussion was on color, and he confirmed the point I have always presented. There is no exact term “color.” Mix a red and blue pigment and you get purple; mix a red and blue light and you, get scarlet. Cross a blue sweet-pea with a red one a la Mendel and you get either Blue or Red Sweet Peas and sometimes in definite mathematical preparations, some of each giving both and some of each giving a single color to their offspring. Which is the right definition for color. Strictly speaking, the glasses may be red, green or blue; or reddish, greenish or bluish, but pigments are always in the latter categories, the decision being in our eyes, and not in wavelength measurements. They are synthesized from wavelengths. This is simple or complicated accordingly as one approaches it. And if you learn anything definite, I would like a discussion some time.
This is rather a heavy report and I have to make extracts for the San Rafael Journal Independent and for the Arab Information Bureau, so will close here. Hoping you have been interested. I remain
Samuel L. Lewis
December 28, 1960
My dear Harry:
At the moment it does not look as if my middle name is Adventure, but all of my names. Yesterday I had accepted the basis of my report on Islamic culture in the U.S. and just after it was accepted a friend of a friend of a friend came in, gave me a boost ad I am going back Saturday to see what will come of it.
Saturday also I go to the Pakistani Embassy. I have now these projects to take up: a. Plant lists discussed below, b. Salts water conversion materials, c. use of saline soils (I hope to meet Dr. Fireman soon), d. Lectures; e. Art materials; f. Travel. That is enough for now.
I then went to the Indian information Bureau where I had been stalled off twice and to my surprise met the Minister of Culture, a cabinet member visiting here and he gave me a note for his secretary. I have to send to Port Said the form for my tickets, which calls for February 20th departure but I want to have everything in order, also to know the time of my arrival in Karachi, etc. as the government has largely changed offices I do not want to stall around in Karachi which I do not like.
This morning I went to the Vegetable Station again and completed the copying of the vegetable list. You can guess how anxious I was to type the list what with Sorrel, Poinsettia, Coleus and now Water Hyacinth on the “goody-goody” list. I remember when I got rid of Dandelions by eating them. How about Water Hyacinth! Anyhow I think I am enclosing them in the same envelope. My original idea was to send another packet (see below).
My friend Ali was there. He has been ill. He was the man who first showed me the Sweet Potato experiment, in pots. He told me he had tried only seedlings and that he had put them in pots with different soils and conditions. Then he took cuttings from them, sometimes as fast as possible, sometimes slower. He kept a complete record of the growth of the original seedlings and the cuttings; and when the cuttings grew rapidly, he took secondary cuttings from them. He is watching all of them.
The primary cuttings in some instances have grown so much faster than the “stock”-seedlings, that they flower more quickly and show on the whole more vigorous and rapid growth. This is, of course, a generality, but for the whole greenhouse (a separate one) they looked healthier.
He made a complete study of the dominant and recessive characteristics as they showed up in the seedlings, but he notices that all cuttings of seedlings don not run absolutely true to form. Generally cuttings run true to form, as we know them, whether soft- or hardwood cuttings. But in a large number of cuttings of seeds, sometimes a recessive will show up as a dominant and occasionally there be sports. The sports are not too radically different and in general, I would say rather that they show characteristics midway between the parents. Thus go give an analogy; the crosses between a blue and red might be blue, red or a color in between. This did not show up in Mendel’s experiments, but is showing up in the colors of the flowers of the S. Potatoes.
Not only that, he is watching to see the relation of the color of the flowers, the growth of stems and finally, and most important, when they are moved in to the field, the relation or effect with the tubers, which after all, are needed. So far as I can see there are great possibilities here. The relation between plant-propagation and plant-breeding may show up in an unexpected manner. And who knows, that even the place of the cuttings—whether tip-, side-, etc. may affect or preserve open or latent characteristics and factors. I hope this point is clear, but I went to visit him again for further data. I feel sure he will write and have this report published.
The first thing that was obvious was the rapidity in which some of the cutting came to bloom, and with that the rapidity by which cutting could be made from cuttings. But Ali is not only interested in large production, he is seeking some principles here which might be applied to other crops. An unusually mild December has resulted in a large number of early blooms and he does not know, again, how much the weather is the detriment factor, or light or actual factors in the seeds or genes.
He will decide nothing until after the plants are put into the field where he shall continue his observation as long as possible, then use the pots and greenhouses for additional experiments. This sort of thing not only “excites” me but makes me want to return to college. (My future is indeterminate now so I can only report for the present.)
I completed the typing and visit to the Greenhouses by 10:30 so when I got back to the pension, went to the Entomological Society. The director was exceedingly cordial. He doubts very much weather we can have absolute pest control. Benninghof, in teaching the Michigan system of Soil testing, always took into consideration the prices for fertilizers, the work involved, the utility of the land and the final economic value of the optimum of application. This was probably good sound judgment. The director uses the same in spraying that the cost of sprays, of spray materials, of labor, and the ultimate benefit have to be considered, An additional factor is the absence of spacing of plants here, in order to get a presumable maximum of production.
He does not believe, under the present system, that man can eradicate many of the pests, under any program. The use of lures is still too new. So they are working on biological controls.
My prime purpose was to buy some literatures in this field. The cost of the books is almost prohibitive. This leaves two ways out—I can go to the National Research Center—where I am going tomorrow anyhow—and arrange for photostatic copies at 3 piaster a page—which is about 7c. Or I can type the material. I hope to see both Hasan Salah and Afifi who are close friends to reach other and I feel both of them after going to be my good friends henceforth. So with the cordial personal relations already existing I shall see what I can obtain.
In any event, I feel I shall be coming back here in a few years; I want to keep in touch with each of these men. Afifi is a dervish and Hasan Salah a U. C. man.
I must go to the Center to continue my conferences with Dr. Nassar, the physicist, and perhaps further rounds of the labs. I have now visited the Spectroscopy, Petroleum, Ceramics and Glass labs, making detailed notes. This may give me opportunities to write for trade Journals, too. I am having a wealth of experiences and getting a wealth of materials.
In my conversations I can only report that many of my pet ideas, rejected in the U.S., have been accepted here. I have been running with the wrong crowds, but feel quite assured, even though I may have to review Physics, and go ahead. At Least U have enough to keep alive. On the other hand I may be subsidized to go to Ohio, or even get a surprise job in California. It is too far ahead.
But the year is ending with every project of my life seemingly on the right road, and up. Even my poetry. My first reports are excellent, and I am awaiting others.
Samuel L. Lewis
December 31, 1960
My dear Florie:
I am closing a most edifying year. Everything has turned around and I think every upset of almost every earlier part of my life has been reversed. This covers so many subjects. I do not wish to go into detail concerning them. But when I return you may have to witness dramatic events. In some instances they may be nothing more than apologies—these will come from people you probably do not know, or if you know them have never connected them with me. Anyhow I am satisfied that both the American Friends of the Middle East and the World Affairs Council are taking me seriously.
The information Bureau has urged that I visit the Social Sciences sections of the National Research Center. I am not refusing but I am so busy. Actually I get tired, but one hates to let up in the “middle of a harvest.” I have projects or visits every day.
This morning I called the Pakistani Embassy. This covered all sorts of things from travel to religion and from horticulture to art. I shall probably visit the place once more, in February.
I them went to the Islamic Congress and gave them, in duplicate, my review on the condition of Islam in American. One thing is certain that neither group is satisfied with the way Islamic teaching are presented. The Pakistanis think too much politics are mixed up in it and this covers more sorts of politics than the Arabs visualize. But both agree that we have warped views on the personality of the Prophet and on polygamy. At least I gave a satisfactory answer.
I have told the Islamic Congress that I would like to have any suggestions and would prefer to follow them. However I am in the awkward position that as soon as I land in Karachi I shall be a quest of the World Islamic Mission, a group which is non-political. However, politics aside, I prefer the Qur’anic interpretations I have read here.
I again went to Mosques Thursday and Friday and expect tomorrow also, inshallah. The atmosphere alone is feeding. The persons I meet are very loving and lovable. I do not wish to imply that the majority of people here are loving and lovable and I do not wish to imply that Americans are or are not. But the loving and lovable people here are for more numerous than one meets in many parts of the world, and there are two distinct kinds of persons morally and psychologically.
Had a wonderful Christmas dinner, taking two young Americans as guests, and go out with another one tonight. Soon I shall make my purchases and probably write to President Nasser. My Indian Poetry was highly a commended, and so also “Saladin” but I have not received the copies of the latter. My impression is to pay suitable visits next week, but now my whole colander is filled….
It is morning and the year has greeted me with a great inspiration. I am sending this to India. A copy is being sent to two people in America, a philosopher whom I am sure will relish it, and an editor who brought up the question as to what is wrong with our space travel experiments. In the States I could not get a discussion, here it was fertile and I met no opposition so far among the top physicists. I can see more and more who the Indians do not relish our instructors in “Oriental philosophy” and why book are published—but so far only in Arabic, denouncing all the Europeans who are “eminent” for their articles on Sufism—“They don’t know from nothing” but they have grand names and charm and what not. Anyhow the year has greeted me and I go ahead.
January 4, 1961
My dear Ruth:
This is my diary entry, and I have neglected it for some while. To save time I enclose copy of a letter to a cousin.
Yesterday I visited a Mosque and Dirgah which very few Americans see and saw more Dervishes. The teacher in one place was giving a lesson, somewhere between the teaching in Esotericism on Wazifa and Amaliat (Psychology). It confirmed a sort of teaching I should like to give whenever God makes it possible for me to be in your presence.
In the Mosque where the Dervishes met there was a sign, ”God is Love,” or as we should say “Mahbood Lillah.” You can see the difference of these people in their eyes.
I have not yet met any of the teachers to whom I was promised introductions but go as often as possible to Sheikh Abu Salem Amria of the Rifa’i school. I had experiences in accordance with this School before I met the Sheikh so was quite ready when they appointed me and confirmed as their representative for America.
The main difficulty here is not language so much as their efforts to convince me of what now appear as elementary teachings. There is nothing wrong in this excepting the wasting of time.
The meetings in regarding Islamic teachings in the U.S. are very complicated. Some groups here, under the guise of religions, seem more concerned in politics. What is wrong here is that in religion we are supposed to becalm the nufs or ego, and the spirit of agitation is the very thing that stands in the way of God-realization. I am trying to avoid any form of correction, but when one sees vibrations rise and fall, and agitation and disturbance, that cannot be the right path.
My paper referred to, which was given to Dr. Hussein, concerns “Surrender-Consciousness” and “Identity Consciousness.” This may be a long and involved, but it is a very important teaching. My purpose, inshallah, is to draw heavily on the books at the Library when I return and try to “push” those who can be pushed, and to guide the others at a suitable rate. However I am still cautious about any kind of division.
I do know that the karma which befalls those who essay the position of teachers and do not fulfill their functions is pretty awful. Many of Pir-o-Murshid’s early works are just by-passed. For instance, “The Confessions of a Sufi Teacher.” He lays down the pattern of the true and false teacher therein. As he said later, one must not disregard a single word, and at the same time we must not emotionalize this statement, “one must not disregard a single word.” We must come to evaluate the words, one by one, and altogether. Not that the words are any more has shadows-of-truth, as he taught, but they are shadows-of-truth, they are not shadows of imagination or falsehood.
The few items about India and Pakistan are very encouraging, but now I have no idea of time and offhand it would seem that I shall spend all of 1961 in Asia, inshallah, hoping to end about a year from now at Penang, Malaya, where one of my best friends lives.
The plan for India would be to visit many Sufi Centers and shrines. There are a lot I have not seen. There are a lot I wish to see again. And there are many things God may have in store for me, inshallah, just as the incidents recorded in the other sheets.
Africa is now awakening, but there is the great danger of not awakening but trying to be a man before being a youth before being a boy before being a child before being an infant. The first thing on a wakening is to learn to crawl, and we don’t only forget God’s wisdom, we forget Nature’s wisdom.
God bless you.
Pukhtunistan Times [date unknown]
Congo: The Homophagita Society has met and cabled Moscow:
Food situation terrible. Please send Kruschev.
We hope so.
Ancient Egypt. Efforts to interest ourselves in this subject have failed. Instead our modest person was introduced into the Hero-Glib-Puck Society and made me honorary member. Everybody cried “Hero-Glib-Puck” excepting one man (you are not allowed to vote in the minority here) who yelled: “Bakshish.”
Work Permit. Foreigners in Cairo need work permits. Pukhtunistan would like that—all persons even trying to work would go to jail. Wouldn’t that be joyful? Will recommend to central government if can find it (not the plan, but the government).
Cultural Exchange. There is now one Arab in the US on a cultural exchange and there are American advisers all over the place. There are now umpteen Arab students in the USA. And there are a handful American students here. One of them did not go to Harvard. How come?
Setting up Exercises. Puck prayed at Al-Azhar yesterday. He was told to look ahead but heard some music—a very familiar kind—the man next to him had removed coins from his pockets which he placed in front of him. Puck did not know whether the man was bowing to Allah or to the coins. Puck is trying to find out.
(Prof. von Plotz is going to be very sore that Puck was permitted to pray in Al-Azhar and find out that some things he says in his lectures are not true. Puck is becoming very popular here. He would prefer that Nasser remained the most popular. Besides somebody might yell “bakshish”—nobody yells “bakshish” at Nasser.)
The Armenians have a new dish: “bak-shish-kabob”—it is the same thing, only you pay more.
President Nasser is in the Sudan. All the tribes are doing folk dances for him. Meanwhile there is competition here between the Yugo-Slavs and Georgians to bring in dances—on your toes, fellows! But UAR has an alliance with Yugo-Slavia.
Besides Georgia is an imaginary real country not a real imaginary country, or is it? We have much concern for Swahilistan. People in Swahilistan are not much interested in work permits, only in pay-permits. They would rather dance anyhow, sensible folks.
Pakistan. Ayub Khan was here and everybody greeted him with love. He returned home and certain Nations greeted him with food and aid for the suffering people in East Pakistan. What these imperialists won’t do!
Puck has plenty of love—to give; and plenty of food—to take. Why not?
Oski-Wee-Wee. Today is Cal. Day. They refuse to arbitrate the Stanford problem at the UN. Puck is going to meet the leading Cal. man this morning to discuss world problems. Prof. von Plotz won’t be there anyhow so we are reporting it just to prove…. Puck is considering writing a book about von Plotz: “Envy and Envoy.” Von Plotz has a wonderful eye; he can be in Marrakesh and describe Cairo and go to Stockton and describe Baghdad. Only a marvelous super genius can do that. Puck still has to go to a place to describe it.
Puck is still holding hands with men; sometimes to form a chain gang—in crossing the street.
Revenge. In Khan-i-Khalili bazaar the pedestrians walk side by side and shoulder to shoulder to prevent taxis from passing through! And if one of them tries to plow, boy he is finish!
Addressee and date unknown.
Briefly, on the American side we cannot expect to collect in Hollywood. My closest friends include those who are physicians and psychiatrists to the big-named actors and others. I would rather show you those doors than write about them.
Over here the presumable contributors to real American-Pakistan cultural relations in turn big landlords, government officials and industrials. I write thus because in the frontier sections I meet the first type, at Rawalpindi the second and at Lahore the third.
In Lahore I spoke with the representatives of both the Asia Foundation and American Friends of the Middle East. Now my closest companions are those who with me are “Four, Just Men.” Regardless of all and sundry “experts,” fiction and non-fiction writers, met all the holy men, spiritual leaders, political leaders, intellectuals and most of the wealthy men of the continent. In one case, the most important now, this includes the wealthiest Chinese in the Malay speaking countries.
This latest friend spoke to me seriously about the harm being done by duplication of effort among organizations in the United States presumably promoting better Asian-American relations. The natural and normal thing to do would be to help subsidize those organizations which are in the field, but we are confronted by two or three dilemmas:
a. When there are rival projects or rivals in projects, what are “we” to do?
b. The material-minded—and from the Asian point of view worse, the dialectically-minded—do not accept the existence of mystics and esotericists.
In Japan I became the errand boy of the late Baron Nakashima, the Mr. Big. I carried with me welcomes to Thailand (which I gave to Princess Poon and then to the top Mahathero; in Burma I turned the things over to Wm. Eilers of Asia Foundation; In India I brought them in person to Vice-President Radhakrishnan who within a few months went to Japan.
Baron Nakashima was not the only person who selected the prime-Ministers—I am not fooling—but he was the leading Zen (real stuff) laymen and through him I became initiated into the Shingi Shingon esoteric school, which he subsidized. Any relations I may have had with the Baron were, of course, pooh-poohed in S.F. but Mr. Nichols of World Affairs Council just happened to note my conversation with Prime Minister Kishi when he visited S.F. (K. Kato was with me if you want further substantiation).
Now I am meeting big and little Nakashimas here. The want the real culture of Pakistan which is largely Sufistic, presented to the American public. We have books, encyclopedia, and, of course, “experts”—ex-Leiden, ex-Oxford, ex-Prague, ex-perts. I had previously seen so much money turned away from “Uncle Louis” & Co. because they would not accept the reality of the Sufis or my connection with them. It is no wonder then, that whatever moneys they raise; they want to see used for specific purposes now and possibly through channels whom they can trust. I don’t know where the end of this will be. But it is going to awaken the American public and the American Foundations to some very hard facts of life which we have been side-stepping.
I now have met three distinct groups of Sufis engaged in counter-espionage against Russia. All of “us,” of course, are fanatics, charlatans, pretenders, though the groups include some pretty strong names. The real quasi-saints of today do not go around in rags and tatters and filth and poverty; they disguise themselves so they are not recognized. The saint of today may be a successful industrialist, a high government official, a top general, or more likely the chancellor or principal of some university. We shall see. This is ironic if not bitter medicine…. You may get an air-mail letter from me before this reaches you depending on events.