The Poetry of Murshid Samuel L. Lewis

Turn aside, O reader! Turn from everything but your heart.
Get outside, O reader, get out from everything but your love—
A single demonstration of the metaphysical,
A single perturbation of self-gratitude,
And the message of this poetry is lost.
                                                               Rassoul Gita, (An unfinished epic by Murshid SAM)

Although several major epic poems were published during his lifetime and others in the few years following his death in 1971, Murshid’s poetry has not yet been given the attention it deserves. There was always a sense that much of his work especially in the last few years of his life, was written for those who would follow in his footsteps. He wrote many times that he felt would be appreciated more when he was dead than when he was alive. “It is quite evident now that after my death, or before, my poetry will be exalted...” This is the great gift he gave us and after almost fifty years since his passing it remains a lasting legacy to be fully acknowledged, read and enjoyed.

Murshid S.A.M.’s deepest mystical experiences and spiritual realizations were perhaps most completely expressed through his poetry. His major poetic works reflect his inner attunement to and effacement in many of the Divine Messengers and without doubt they are profound esoteric teachings.

A significant turning point in Murshid S.A.M.’s life took place in 1925 when as a result of having had a “complete nervous breakdown” he was sent on a ten-day spiritual retreat by Murshida Rabia Martin. During this retreat he experienced a number of visions and states of consciousness. As he puts it “The Great Visions took place in 1925 when this person went into the wilderness, presumably to die. Instead he was visited three times by the almost mythical Khwaja Khizr. Khizr gave him the choice of poetry or music and he selected poetry and after many years great cosmic poems came but were slow in gaining public attention.” (Cosmic Language)

This experience was a major catalyst for his poetic inspiration and output. In 1962 while in New Delhi he had a further vision of significance. “When I stood before the tomb of the great Urdu Poet, Amir Khusrau, he appeared with a robe exactly the same as I had seen before. ‘I initiate you into the school of Jelal-ud-din Rumi as the successor to the late great poet, Mohammed Iqbal’.” In addition to the further impetus this offered his subsequent poetry it was also an acknowledgement of the nature and quality of his work to that point.

We present here 126 poems of Murshid S.A.M. written between 1925 and 1970. We have drawn special attention to 32 of them as they can be considered his major works though naturally there is also merit in the other poems. Overall the collection contains major epics, other longer poems and shorter ones as well as a number of early poems.

The mystical poetry that flowed to him and through him was an outer demonstration of his experiences of the inner realms; as well as offering the fruits of his own life of spiritual practice; and also represent a testament to his understanding and mastery of all of the major world spiritual traditions.