WaliAli2015.png

Becoming the Stillness between the Breaths

with Murshid Wali Ali Meyer

A quarterly series deepening in the study of the Breath in the esoteric teachings of Hazrat Inayat Khan and Murshid Samuel Lewis

You are welcome to come to any individual class, no requirement to have come to the first one or commit to the next ones.
2018 CLASS DATES: January 13, March 10, May 26, September 8, December 8

 Preregistration is required. Space is limited. Open to initiates and others by permission.

To register, for more information or to request recordings, contact Barakat  - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. -

The focus will be both fundamental and advanced. We cannot become adepts at practices deemed to be highly advanced, if we are not able to concentrate for extended periods, to actively practice contemplation, and to enter into stillness. We will work with sharpening our focused attention in our fundamental work with the breath. We will also continue working with various Shaghals, Mushahida contemplations, and effacements and tassawuri walks of illuminated souls.

imgres-2.jpg567636._UY200_.jpgOne of the doorways we will utilize are the Centering Exercises rendered by Paul Reps in Zen Flesh, Zen Bones. Hazrat Inayat Khan had told him of manuscripts that were available in Kashmir that were of the greatest value.

Reps went to Kashmir and met Lakshman Joo a Yogi who had translated the Siva text, the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra. Reps offered a version he thought appropriate to his times, de-emphasizing the tantric aspects. Other translations are now available including The Radiance Sutras by Lorin Roche. Wali Ali will use both the original translation by Joo and some of these newly expressed versions of what Roche calls "the 112 Gateways to the Yoga of Wonder and Delight" for meditative purposes in this series.

This all-day class starts at 10 AM at the Mentorgarten, 410 Precita Ave. in SF, Lunch included, bring a brown bag or explore local eateries for dinner. Evening program ends at 9:30PM

The cost for each day's program is $99. Preregistration is required. Space is limited. Open to initiates and others by permission. Inshallah - the class will be video recorded for access by those unable to attend in person.

 

 

Note: Please inquire with Tawwaba if you are interested in receiving recordings from previous classes. 

 

Beloved ones of God,

 

In our continuing research and writing for the biography of Murshid Samuel Lewis we have arrived at the period of the early 1950s. For many reasons it was the most difficult period of his life, and one he learned much from.

 

In a letter to his godson Norman McGee in 1964, Samuel Lewis wrote, "I had to begin life all over in 1950 when I was well on in years but it has worked." He was fifty-four in 1950, evicted from his place on the Sufi land in Fairfax, targeted for blame for a fire that later destroyed a major building there simply because he had come to the property earlier in the day to retrieve some of his writings from the files, no longer associated formally in a teaching role with any Sufi order, and having lost in the fire most of his own writing as well as that of his primary teacher, Hazrat Inayat Khan, and much of the library of the now deceased Murshida Martin. He took a wise approach and turned to the light within, looking afresh for guidance as how to fulfill his purpose in life.

 

During the early 1950s he went to City College and took several years of courses in all aspects of horticulture. This is something that would come to his benefit later when, after his father's passing, he would receive some money that would allow him to travel abroad for the first time.

 

He would venture to Japan first in 1956. But during the preceding years, he suffered from continuing slurs on his character encouraged by the new Murshida Ivy Duce appointed by Rabia Martin, the new head of the organization. The organization now affirmed Meher Baba as the principle teacher for them, and was re-incorporated as Sufism Re-oriented. However, the work of Hazrat Inayat Khan was basically discontinued in all the forms he had presented it. As for Samuel Lewis he rarely if ever got any credence when he spoke up about what he knew in contrast to what was happening.

 

Sometimes we find ourselves living through very difficult times. In the end we often learn a great deal from our experience. In writing a book about an extraordinary spiritually realized human being such as Samuel Lewis we think it will be important to show how someone can grow through this condition and ultimately succeed, and perhaps gain confidence in their own life's expression.

 

Love and Blessing,

Wali Ali

 

 

Thank you for your continuing interest in the current biography being researched and written on the amazing life of Samuel L. Lewis.  Speaking for all of us who have been involved in this work, the scope of his life was beyond gigantic and the energy field he moved in was strong and universal in scope and activity. Right now I finished putting together the draft of Chapter 41. We have passed through the fire that occurred on New Year’s Eve Dec. 31, 1949. The blaze that took out one of the three buildings there including the chapel and destroyed a fabulous library and collections of writings was a landmark event in Samuel Lewis life and ushered in a period of great suffering and growth that endured throughout the early 1950s. Stay with us on this voyage, an extraordinary story of a realized human being.

Down the Rabbit Hole – research notes from Tawwaba

 

The research process for the biography continues to unearth golden nuggets.

 

After learning that Murshid was involved as an observer in the 1945 United Nations Conference in San Francisco, which resulted in the UN charter, I began to glean references about the UN in our archives. There I came across various references to a piece of writing by Shamcher Beorse, that related Murshid Sam to Dag Hammarskjöld, Secretary-General from 1953 until his death in a plane accident in 1961.

 

I reached out to Carol Sill, Shamcher's archivist, who very kindly located this as a chapter in a book called Every Willing Hand. Below is an extended excerpt from this delightful article. Enjoy!

 

-1.jpg

 

From Chapter 8: Communicators –

 

By whatever name or method a mystic begins his trek, he ends up nameless, system-less, pride-less, self-less, seeing, hearing, feeling only one all-embracing Being whom, if he uses English terms, he may call God. He may begin as a Sufi, or a Yogi, or in one of the numerous organizations deriving from one of these, such as the Christian churches. Or he may begin all by himself, following no established path or creed.

 

As he fervently seeks to reach into the secrets of minerals, plants, animals, men, the universe, because he loves, because he wishes to be inside where he may understand, he can no longer stick to one creed, one name or one path not shared by everyone and everything. He does not deny. When with Christians, he tries to talk and behave as Christians do, as long as it is loving and not despising. When with Buddhists, he is a Buddhist, though not a judging one.

 

When with atheists, he assumes the fine flavor of the philosophical atheist who denies a primitive God but accepts a universal plan and planner. He enters the heart of every man and agrees with him; agrees with his deeper urges, not always with his superficial whims. And this is how he may appear to some as a teacher. He does not teach a doctrine. He only shows each person what this person himself deeply wishes. Many do not know what they deeply wish, so they may be shown by one who has learned to look deeper.

 

Where do we find this specimen called mystic? Everywhere, in every man and woman. A transparent example completed his life among us early in 1971. He left a thinly spread group, now increasing rapidly, in San Francisco and Marin County, polarized to him as teacher. They live in private homes or in community homes at all levels of comfort or discomfort. Many of them had been hippies and had taken drugs. Hardly any of them take drugs any more even though no one told them they had been wrong taking them. This they say, is due to this teacher, SAM or to their relation to him.

 

Samuel L. Lewis was a native San Franciscan and a horticulturist. Early he had an urge to find truth or. at least, find something. The theories offered him in religion and science interested him but did not satisfy him. In 1910, an Eastern mystic, Inayat Khan, a Hindu musician of the Moinuddin Chishti order of Sufis, came to San Francisco. In 1923, Sam became his pupil. Though born of well-to-do parents, Sam's independence of spirit shaped for him a tough working-man's life and it was only in his seventies that he could afford to travel. To cover the greatest distance for the least funds, he relinquished all comfort and studied at the feet of many teachers, Buddhists, Hindus, Arabs, Japanese. He did not leave his old teachers as he acquired new ones, but coalesced them into a whole. One of his Sufi teachers in Pakistan dubbed him Sufi Ahmed Murad, meaning he who is endeavoring to fulfill his life's purpose, and when Sam's earth life had been completed, the same teacher redubbed him Sufi Ba Murad, meaning he who has accomplished his life's purpose.

 

Sam had already acquired a considerable following in San Francisco and each time he returned from his trips he threw himself into his work as teacher and organizer with renewed energy and a wider vision.

 

Sam's position and work were never a secret. Some say he shouted from the housetops. His contemporary, Dag Hammarskjold of the United Nations, on the other hand, kept his mystic trend hidden from all but a few trusted friends. Many hail this attitude as the essence of wisdom, and in view of Dag Hammarskjold's position, it might well have been. Sam's open door and un-secrecy may stem from a different kind of wisdom, from a different set of circumstances. For one thing, realizing, that if the mystic goods be not now openly sought and coveted, our civilization may face a dim future.

 

There is another difference between Sam and Dag. While the latter apparently had no specific individual teacher, Sam had many. Some mystics have claimed that you definitely need one teacher on this path. The Hindu mystic and poet Rabindranath Tagore in one of his stirring poems portrays the attainment of divine grace without the the assist of any teacher.

 

Who was right, Sam or Dag and Rabindranath?

 

All three were right. Sam wanted to know the world religions and teach them to others, so he needed to be taught. Rabindranath or the hero of his poem wanted to realize God, and who would insult our Creator by saying He is incapable of letting us know Him except through a go-between? The paths, streets and avenues are as many as there are human beings. Each one of us is unique, matchless, incomparable, in the final analysis his own one and only teacher.

 

The links to his various teachers made Sam international and historical. From the early Sufis, Abraham and, possibly, Chinese alchemists, there is a line of free and tolerant but disciplined thought and feeling down to such more recent teachers as El Ghazali, who at the age of thirty-five reached fame as the outstanding scholar of both Christian and Moslem traditions. At that time, these two traditions might have merged. But, weary of the vagaries of fame, El Ghazali left his sheltered world to roam as an unknown beggar. During his wanderings, he once came to a small town and entered a house of God to pray among the "little people". The preacher wound up his sermon praising "the great El Ghazali, the top scriptural authority", not knowing that this famous man was in his audience.

 

El Ghazali rose and quietly left, determined not to be trapped again in the web of fame.

 

Sam had much in common with El Ghazali. He knew the Christian and Moslem traditions well and bridged them. In addition, he knew the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. In Sam's burning heart these were all one.

 

 

excerpted from Every Willing Hand: Community, Economy and Full Employment

by Shamcher Bryn Beorse and Carol Sill http://www.every-willing-hand.shamcher.com/

Wikipedia entry about Hammarskjöld: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dag_Hammarskjöld

On June 28, 2018 the Dances of Universal Peace will celebrate their 50th birthday. They began in Murshid Sam's garage in San Francisco and are now known around the world as great vehicles of love, harmony, and beauty, as well as builders of community and a force toward the realization of unity with all that is.

The Dances appeared during the golden period in the last years of Murshid Sam's life from 1956 through 1970. I heard him say on that day as we did the first Dances, "They will go all over the world because they belong to God and not to me personally." The Dances are certainly one of his singular accomplishments. They are a wonderful contribution to world culture and to spiritual realization.

Full, almost beyond belief, with activity on his part for the benefit of humanity, the life conditions he experienced were not set up to be easy on him. His journey from his birth in San Francisco in 1896 is an epic story worthy of deep study.

The need to ultimately write a biography of Murshid Sam was immediately understood, and the project really began after his passing from the body on Jan. 15, 1971. I made it the Sufi Ruhaniat's business to interview everyone that had known Sam, whether they thought he was a realized being or a crackpot deserving scorn. Our crew was quite successful in preserving memories of him, and now they are part of our archives and instrumental in putting together many elements of his life story.

Murshid Sam himself wrote more than anyone would have thought possible for a human being -poetry, commentaries on his teacher Hazrat Inayat Khan's public and esoteric teachings, instructional papers in Sufism, books on politics, prophecy, and related cultural movements, peace plans, spiritual dancing, correspondence, diaries. In short, it is an awesomely vast terrain, and this does not even touch on his other numerous activities.

Many people over the years repeatedly encouraged me to write a biography of Murshid Sam, including Pir Shabda and Pir Zia. I was always reticent considering the unbelievably vast amount of material to cover and to uncover, and the fact that it existed only on paper. I said it was all too vast for me to pull together. Everything would need to be digital and searchable before it would make sense to take on the task.

As the world turned, the Sufi Ruhaniat agreed to support advanced methods to preserve the existing files, and the conditions were met. I embarked on the project. We have now been working on the book formally for more than two years and may need an equal span of time to finish it. The first and main thing I received from Murshid Sam as things started was his advice to be sure to involve students, who would become researchers and helpers with the project. He said that would build great inner support and that they would benefit from the attunement and proximity to him. It has proven to be very true.

One of the great benefits from the scope of our research efforts has been to uncover material about Murshid Sam's life that was never known before. Of course that is also a challenge. Chief researcher, Tawwaba Bloch, uncovered through a search that landed in the archives of Gorham Munson at Wesleyan University a whole era for Murshid Sam as a writer active in some of the socio-economic experiments which arose during the great depression, and co-author of a book on these, "Glory Roads", with Luther Whitman.

Sam's correspondence with Munson, a well known editor and teacher of writing, and a leader in the U.S. of the Social Credit movement, revealed a trove of letters that described much of what was going on in his life during the mid to late 1930s, a period that was previously quite vacant as to details. Murshid Sam wrote voluminously throughout his life and maintained a prodigious correspondence with a very wide variety of people.

Discoveries like this are a challenge too, as they generate more work, and then always the question rises of how you pare this down to make a book that is not too big. Murshid Saadi suggested to me that in areas such as Sam's ancestry where we have unearthed many fascinating and relevant details, we could edit down the existing drafts of chapters for the book as it will be when published, and put into our archives a resource for those that wanted to read more deeply into given materials. Saraswati Burke led in much of this stellar research in ancestry. But dozens of people, too many to name here, have and are helping us grow this book.

Samuel Lewis was a disciple of the first Sufi teacher to come to America, Hazrat Inayat Khan. Sam met him through Murshida Rabia Martin, who was his first Sufi teacher. He was also drawn to the first Zen masters, Nyogen Senzaki and Sokei-an Sasaki at this time and facilitated the meeting between Inayat Khan and Nyogen Senzaki, a notable union of masters of different traditions but the same essence.

Sam lived through the great San Francisco earthquake and the great depression. He worked for Army secret services as a civilian employee during WW II, and with the WPA [Works Projects Administration, providing employment after the Great Depression]. There were tremendous challenges in his life, not the least of which being the highly dysfunctional state of his family of birth. One of those who really helped him in the 1950s, was Dr. Blanche Baker a now heralded therapist, a psychiatrist who was also a psychic and whose approach helped him overcome past patterns of rejection.

This account is random cherry-picking on a big farm with many other products. It is intended to highlight a few things to bring you into the world we face putting together this book on a most extraordinary human being whose life was unbelievably full and active, so much so that no one thing written about it could be enough. I want this book to be a true and deep picture of a man, a prophet before his time, an enlightened person who had to struggle with many difficulties. By giving a picture of Samuel Lewis as close to reality as we can get I think we will see realization in the midst of process, and even beyond, find insight and affirmation of our life.

The Ruhaniat's commitment to the book has been helped by generous donations of many people who support the project. Over the months there are blog entries that others and myself wrote on various things as they evolved. You will be able to get more details about the unfolding of this project on this blog. Mostly, I just want to say on behalf of all of us, we appreciate your support in helping make the essential quality of Murshid Sam's life and teachings available for the whole world. Like the Dances of Universal Peace, his life story should be tasted and experienced by all.

Love and Blessings, Murshid Wali Ali Meyer

Editor's note: You can support the Murshid SAM biography project here.

Full Moon Blog Wali Ali

 

Beloved Ones of God,

 

Murshid Samuel Lewis' beneficent influence now permeates the whole world in many forms including the Dances celebrating all spiritual traditions. Just now I am trying to digest an immense amount of work Samuel Lewis did in the 1930s.

 

In addition to his work researching and co-authoring "Glory Roads" about cults and movements in California, and representing Social Credit in various political and intellectual arenas, he worked endlessly for the Sufi path brought to America by his teacher Hazrat Inayat Khan, and served as a Khalif for Murshida Rabia Martin who was an international representative of the Sufi teachings.

 

He had tremendous energy for life and expression. During the decade of the 30s he wrote prolifically about Sufi teachings and other spiritual insights. The large bulk of these writings were lost in a fire, but a number survived—some recovered from South America, others found in the Sufi Movement archives in Europe, some mistaken for the writings of Hazrat Inayat Khan in the esoteric papers distributed in Germany.

 

To give you an idea of the content, here is an incomplete listing of papers Murshid Sam wrote in the 30s and that survived to the present:

 

Meditation on Yom—Essay on Fabre D'Olivet's The Hebraic Language Restored

*Githekas on Self Protection, Series 1, 2, and 3 used in Brasil and Australia as well as the Sufi center in Fairfax.

Eight lessons on Breath

On Abraham and Other Matters—esoteric essay

Communications with Inayat Khan. Begins with "My own journey in fana-fi-Sheikh began on February 5, 1930, exactly three years after his death, when the Pir-o-Murshid appeared to me and helped me from the other side to write the commentaries on his esoteric works. (i.e. his lessons for initiated disciples.)

*Githekas for Mureeds, Series I, II, III

The Parliament of Religions

From the Master Jesus

India and the Abolition of War

India United

Review, The Wheel of Rebirth, an occult book published in 1935.

The Bestowing of Blessing –book

The Influence of Zen on Western Art, essay

Art and Music –chapters from an unfinished book

Discourse on Arsh – Long paper relying on the mystical semantics of D'Olivet.

Shuyukhuyat, On Being A Sheikh. A version of this appeared in the Sufi Movement archives and later in Germany.

Esotericism, Series 3

On the Vital Force

The Book of peace

201 Suras on Breath

Sri Aurobindo and the Age of Integration

Essays on Music and Cosmic Evolution

Introduction to Soviet Sheikhs

Book of the Jamiat

Sufism, Series 2

Spiritual Dancing

Fana fi Sheikh

Psychism, Dangers and Benefits

Meditations on the Diwan of Shams I Tabriz

 

There are many more from the period that includes the early 40s. The Sufi Ruhaniat International has a remarkable collection of Murshid Samuel Lewis' writings on its website. You are invited to visit: ruhaniat.org

 

I hope this post gives you an idea of the vast amount of material that we have to go through in producing a deep and thorough biography.

 

Love and Blessings,

Wali Ali

 

Note: the papers listed above are available in our online archive at MurshidSam.Org. Those marked with an asterisk are available only to mureeds.

Dear Friends,

Peace be with you!

Writing a biography of Murshid Samuel Lewis naturally expands one's awareness into the whole Earth, the whole Cosmos and beyond. I have been immersed in the period of his life that in the decade of the 1930s. He had a tremendous amount of involvement in working to reform monetary policy in the U.S. in lines with the ideas of Social Credit.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_credit

In this decade he led a very active life as was his usual speed. He researched and co-wrote a book on the movements of his times in California called Glory Roads: The Psychological State of California, wrote articles for magazines, was involved in a congressional investigation of the Townsend Plan that his research helped expose as a financial scam at the top, gave lectures on Social Credit to Republicans and Democrats. There were many letters to Congressmen, and lobbying for and against legislative initiatives.

At the same time, he was giving talks under the leadership of Murshida Rabia Martin in the Sufi Movement in the U.S. He was her Khalif and held her post at Kaaba Allah when she traveled here and abroad.

The Great Depression affected this whole period of the '30s-- record unemployment and poverty. Those earning $5000 a year or more possessed more than 98% of all the wealth in America. Socio-economic- political movements to address this situation abounded. Glory Roads described a variety of these schemes. Many of them were financial scams only benefitting the leaders. But the ideas ultimately had an influence, one outcome being our current Social Security system.

 Sokei AnThe change that was happening in the world was expressed by Sokei-An Sasaki, Murshid Sam's Zen teacher in New York City.

Sokei-an Sasaki was one of the very few teachers presenting Buddhism in America. In his teachings of that era, he expressed the culture of the times. He referred to the people of their era trying to find a pivot on the issue of money. What he was suggesting was a pivot in the realm of consciousness. Sasaki was the Zen teacher from whom Murshid Samuel Lewis received Dharma transmission in the manner Sokei-an preferred, which he called soul to soul. After that merging, Sam wrote that all the world scriptures became streams of light for him. While Murshid Sam benefitted tremendously from this experience and wrote about it in his book Dharma Transmission, until recently there were practically no texts available with Sokei-An's words and teachings. Thus his contribution to our lineage stream has not been given much space in our published teachings for lack of knowledge of details.

Now, because truth in the end always wins, as Hazrat Inayat Khan said, there are truly magnificent and clear writings that are available. The great universal theologian and writer Huston Smith wrote the preface to The Zen Eye, a book of Sokei-an's talks. He concluded it by saying "It is for me an honor of the highest grade to be accorded the privilege of saluting, through this Preface, one of the wisest teachers of our century—one who, until now, has not been widely recognized. It is his legacy that we hold in our hands."

Our lineage of Sufism very much embraced these particular Zen Buddhist teachings from the outset of their manifestation in America. Hazrat Inayat Khan and Nyogen Senzaki immediately came into oneness together after their initial meeting. Nyogen Senzaki and Sokei-an were from the same school and were among the first Zen teachers in America, students in the lineage of Soyen Shaku who first presented Buddhism in 1893 at the World Fair in Chicago where Vivekananda first presented Hinduism.

In researching the material now available, like Huston Smith I too became quite impressed with Sokei-an's realization and his clear way of presenting the teachings. It has inspired me to begin a yearlong class on Monday nights at the Mentorgarten in San Francisco. It is a Dharma Night class in which we focus on Sokei-an Sasaki's teachings and legacy and show its harmonization with the path of Sufism given us by Murshid Samuel Lewis.

TheZenEyeOriginalNAture

These classes are being filmed and recorded. Ali Charles, who was our film-maker and editor of previous longterm classes is editing this material for people to access. We have now had four classes and the offerings for January have been released. Ali's recent letter gives some details on this process:

The classes are being offered for a suggested donation of $10 for each of the weekly classes, and available a month at a time. The January 2017 classes are now available for a suggested donation of $30.  No one will be excluded for lack of funds.  If you wish access to the January classes, or have any questions, please send an email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.g

There is tremendous enrichment of being that continues to come from our work on Murshid Sam's biography. Our wish is to have this work continue to be a source of great benefit to all.

Love and Blessings,

Wali Ali

dharmanight.jpgdharmanight_2.jpg

Monday Night Dharma Class with Murshid Wali Ali Meyer

Every Monday Night from 7:30 – 9:00 PM at the Mentorgarten
410 Precita Avenue, San Francisco CA

Zen teachings focused on the extraordinary approach of the Zen Master Sokei-an Sasaki from whom Samuel Lewis received the Dharma transmission. The class will include a meditation period; use of ko-ans, study of Sokei-an’s translation and commentary on
the Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, and more.

suggested donation $10-20
for more information contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 
 

Sokei-an Sasaki was the Zen teacher from whom Samuel Lewis received the Dharma Transmission. Sasaki’s method was soul to soul communication, a meeting in the Buddha nature that is present but un-awakened in most of us.

Nyogen Senzaki was on the West Coast and Sam learned to perfect his skill in meditation and ability to unravel ko- ans with him. Sam would meet Sasaki in 1931 in New York City a few months after this Zen Master would open his zendo. Both Sasaki and Both Sasaki and Senzaki were of the same direct

lineage as Soyen Shaku who introduced Buddhism to America at the Chicago Exposition before the turn of the 20th century.

The lineage of the Sufi Ruhaniat started by Samuel Lewis is blessed to have a deep strain of Buddhist transmission woven into its heart. There was little to no writings of Sokei-an available during Sam’s lifetime. Now they are available, and very inspiring. I think he gives the clearest exposition ever of Zen Buddhism and points the way directly to Buddhahood

Wali Ali studied this new material as part of the biography on Samuel Lewis that he is writing. Now he is inspired to start a class on these teachings and practice.

The class will include deeply absorbing Sokei-an’s teachings in his translation and commentary on “the Sutra of the 6th Patriarch”, his lectures embodied in a work called “The Zen Eye”, and his autobiography “Holding the Lotus to the Rock”. We will meditate according to Sokei-an’s instructions, which will include incorporating several basic ko-ans. As Sokei- an liked to say “Everyone is welcome, and no one will be pursued if they leave.”

The classes will be recorded. If interested in obtaining these recordings please contact Tawwaba This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 
 
 
 

Reflecting on the Sufi Samuel Lewis' life in writing a biography, I find myself in the early 1930s in middle of the Great Depression. We also find Sam ever active among those wishing to bring change to society and willing to look for creative solutions.

 

He had just returned to the Bay Area from New York in 1932. Now a Khalif for Murshida Martin, Sam wrote lessons for Sufi students; he gave talks at Theosophical Lodges, he began researching a book on the California movements of the times, and he was active in political circles.

 

His association with Alexander Meiklejohn, a famous revolutionary educator reveals one part of the story. Meiklejohn had moved on from being a highly controversial president of Brown University to the University of Wisconsin where he was empowered to start an Experimental College that inspired scores of innovative programs. From there he went to the Bay Area, where he founded a free adult school, the San Francisco School of Social Studies.  Samuel Lewis attended as a student.

 

Meiklejohn's ideas about what was needed in our culture and his purpose in founding the school was described by him in an explanatory article in The New Republic about his purpose:

 

    "Our scheme of government and of life can succeed only if, in their more mature years men and women will engage in careful, enthusiastic and guided study of common values, common dangers, common opportunities… The end to be served will not be vocational…. The deepest question in American life today is not economic or political; it is educational. It is the question of the thinking power of a democracy. Can our people understand and direct their own living or must someone else do their thinking, make their decisions, for them? As a democracy we are pledged to try the first of these."1

 

In 1934-35 Sam lived primarily in San Francisco. He attended Meiklejohn's school in its very first year in California. Speaking of this program in The New Republic article, Meiklejohn wrote:

 

"…The first task of the teachers has been that of selecting the books in which the best minds of our civilization have expressed themselves upon our common problems in ways suitable for popular reading. In the nature of the case, most of our technical, scholarly books will not serve the purpose. But the "Dialogues of Plato", the Bible, the Constitution, the writings of Emerson, Whitman, Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Emily Dickinson, Dreiser, Jeffers, Dewey, Veblen, Tawney, Brandeis, Turner, Beard, Lenin, Bourne, Mumford, Dos Passos, these and a host of others in poetry and prose, tell us of the attempts of our intellectual leaders to solve the human problems that we in America now face. The motive here found expression in the "Great Books" course at Columbia and again in the similar venture carried on at Chicago by President Hutchins and Professor Adler….

 

"The second task of the faculty has been to furnish guidance in the study of the books selected. To this end groups have been formed with six and fifteen as the lower and upper limits of membership. At weekly meetings the books have been discussed chapter by chapter, all the members being pledged to careful reading of the assignment in advance. The reading time of a single book has ranged from five or six to twelve weeks. In the guiding of the discussion, the teachers have tried to avoid lecturing… We need the practice of democracy rather than the preaching of it…."

 

This approach to adult education matches up with Sam's learning style. From an early age he had studied the Great Books of the world in depth with much attention to world religions. Thoughout his life, his goal was always to gain actual experience from going deeply into the teachings. Following the guidance of his Sufi initiator of being a bridge between mysticism and what passed for knowledge in American universities, he frequently found himself railing against those who preached what they did not practice, and who assumed knowledge in areas they had not actually experienced directly.

 

Reflecting on my own life, as a Graduate student in a Ph.D. program at Vanderbilt University one summer I was invited to teach in a Great Books of the Western World Course at Salem College in North Carolina for high school rising seniors who tested at genius level on their IQ's and those gifted in the arts who qualified by their work in drama or music. Little does one know how much one's own life reflects cosmic themes in the life of the person who would become one's teacher.

 

Spies were sent by The American Legion of California to the classes in the school in San Francisco and they "determined" that un-American teachings were going on, dangerous ideas. They ferreted around finding to their satisfaction that Meiklejohn posed a threat to national security. The House Un-American activities committee would follow up in the same vein harassing many creative Americans.

 

Even so, now we are in similar conditions. The times try our souls, and ask us to respond to the cry of humanity for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and ask that basic respect be given to all. According to Meiklejohn and according to Sufi Sam, a proper approach would encourage actively thinking about ways that serve the human race and the world we inherit. Take heart. Don't be discouraged, actively engage in the process.

 

Love and Blessings,

Wali Ali

These indeed are the times that try men's souls. A mystic's view of the ups and downs of politics and the world in general is significantly different than the ordinary view. Hazrat Inayat Khan said the words that follow in "The Bowl of Saki" and Murshid Samuel Lewis wrote the commentary.

 

"Put your trust in God for support and see God's hidden hand working through all sources." Hazrat Inayat Khan

 

Commentary from Samuel L. Lewis (Sufi Ahmed Murad Chisti):

 

"For the Salik, or sincere traveler on the spiritual path, this trust should be a verity not a blind faith in chance, not an unfounded optimism, but a trust founded upon surety. There is a world of differences between such a view and fatalism. The Salik in order to see God's hidden hand must see, and not merely hope. Then through the awakening of the heart the Salik discerns the spiritual forces in every part of the Universe.

 

---

 

When I was a young man in a Reform Jewish synagogue in Mississippi we were studying the Seven Plagues in our confirmation class. Every time the Prophet Moses acting as God's representative to Pharaoh revealed a divine plague such as the water of the Nile turning to blood, Pharaoh would agree to let the Hebrew slaves go out into the wilderness to worship with Moses and Moses would cause the plague to end. Over and over this happened and each time the text would say "But God caused Pharaoh's heart to harden" and he changed his mind about letting the Hebrews go. I asked the Rabbi why did we say Pharaoh was the epitome of everything evil and Moses of everything good when the Biblical text said this. He couldn't answer my question, but the depth of the question continued to resonate with me and led to a mystical life.

 

The period of the 1930s, where I am presently writing was a time of great social upheaval and tremendous poverty. Murshid Sam was co-authoring the book "Glory Roads" at this time. It was a book about the new groups forming in California in the political spotlight. A few quotations will show how this all matches up with our present situation.

 

"In Los Angeles the boom of the 20's was now in a backwash. This city and county was to have the unenviable distinction of being called the "blackest spot" in the United States. The army of unemployed threatened the peace of the city, the stability of government itself. There was little relief, federal or state, Community chests were taxed to the utmost. Charitable institutions were down to their last dime. But there were no moratoriums on foreclosures; homes were being taken over by banks and mortgage companies in sickening numbers…the fear and the hopelessness of 1930 and 1932.

 

"To some of the local soothsayers the day of Armageddon had arrived. Groups and organizations, some worthy, some sinister, began to take form. The Silver Shirts were accused of carrying on military drills in the hills near San Diego; the Ku Kluxers rode; agitators, demagogues, socialists, communists, anti-semites, anti-Catholics became vocal. The wolves were in the wake of the famine. A great fermentation was beginning again in California. There were at least twenty known groups in San Francisco whose purpose was to lead the way out of depression…. No two groups agreed on anything fundamental.

 

Murshid Sam said to truly do what Hazrat Inayat Khan proposed was not to become a fatalist. Fatalism just accepts everything that happens with a sense it was fated to be that way so we should just accept it as it is.

 

On the contrary we need to look deep into the sway of life and find the One and Only Being's cosmic compassion, and manifest it in our own sphere of activity, which if you were Samuel Lewis would be universal. Difficulties lead to creative solutions and Murshid Sam was quite involved in much of this creative genesis during the depression era.

 

The moon is so very, very close to the Earth this time round that I think there may need to be another blog to come out on the subject of our times transposed with the life of Murshid Sam.

 

Love and Blessings,

Wali Ali

 
 
 
 
 

Beloved Ones of God,

In The Bowl of Saki teaching for September 14, Murshid Samuel Lewis commented on the words of his teacher Hazrat Inayat Khan, who said: "Devotion to a spiritual teacher is not for the sake of the teacher; it is for God."

Murshid Sam's commentary was: "By attunement to the breath of the spiritual teacher, one becomes attuned to the Divine Breath, and by attunement to the heart of the teacher one becomes united to all the illuminated souls who form the Embodiment of the Master, the Spirit of Guidance."

This was Murshid Sam's practice, and it was a key to his success in life. In 1930 on a personal retreat on February 5, anniversary of Pir-O- Murshid Inayat Khan's passing, his teacher appeared to him and exerted real physical pressure on his crown center, opening up a deep inner connection and making possible a continuing flow of inspiration in his spiritual writing.

Right now in the biography, I am writing about the period from 1932 to 1935, where he has returned from the East Coast to California in the midst of the Great Depression. In addition to helping Murshida Rabia Martin in the continuation of the Sufi work he is drawn into facing the social problems that are endemic during this era.

Circumstances are difficult, but he is able to draw strength from his relationships with many awakened souls. He can count in that number Zen teachers Sokei-an Sasaki and Nyogen Senzaki, the Sufis Hazrat Inayat Khan and Murshida Martin, and more. His effacement of self in these relationships gave him an attunement with the holy spirit in the breath and his living connection with all the illuminated souls that made him a vehicle of blessings.

Love and Blessings,

Wali Ali

 

Beloved Ones of God,

In 1930, Samuel Lewis made his first journey to New York City. He had been attracted there by the artistic work of Nicholas Roerich and his worldwide ideals. At that time Roerich's group had built a large skyscraper with housing for artists and poets and the like to go along with Roerich's amazing drawings in which Sam saw what he called a dharma transmission, the embodiment in art of spiritual realization.

As a young poet and writer, Sam applied and got an invitation to join this artistic community. Every day he would contemplate the vast array of pictures. He particularly loved Mother of the World, and years later would give it to his women's dance class as a meditation practice. Sam wrote a medley of poems each with a number from the exhibition in the Roerich Museum. Here is his poem inspired by Mother of the World.

MOTHER OF THE WORLD
O Thou veiled One,
Whose words unuttered fall like dazzling jewels
In the throne-room in the Center of the Infinite;
We kneel before Thy bounteous Presence...
Thou sacrificing, All-pervading Mother…
To Thee we offer praise for every favor,
Humbling ourselves before Thy Heavenly Throne,
Hailing Thy Glory through endless kotis of aeons.
Without Thee less than naught are we,
But through Thy magnanimity,
We have been raised to quaff the purest nectar.
Praise to Thee forever, Mother of gods and devas and men,
We worship and adore Thee, Soul of our souls.
-- From the poems of Samuel Lewis, in the set called Rhapsodiae Coronae

As a worker for world peace through the inner teachings of all religions, Sam became involved in the Roerich group's work for the Banner of Peace project. He warned them in a minority report that if they got "important people" involved - politicans and social leaders and the like - it would blow up in their face, and it did. However, he learned a great deal from Roerich's efforts and saw that it was not a movement that would bring peace through the arts but individuals who would stand forth in the light of realization. In the course of his life he would make peace through the arts part of his world program, and over time expanded it into to music, poetry, and dance.

Thank you all for your prayers and support for the biography project we are working on. And thanks to Donna Walia DeMille who did an excellent job helping us with researching Roerich's influence in Samuel Lewis' life, more of which you will see when the book is completed.

Love and Blessings,

Wali Ali