part one - two - four
There was a Zen student from a wealthy family who used to take time off by disappearing for a few months. This would cause concern among his family and friends. Once he’d been gone longer than usual and his father offered to pay Zen Center students in San Francisco to go looking for him. That was 1975 - 76 when I was running the Zen Center’s grocery store with a fellow student named Jim. We were all searching in the lower Market area of San Francisco because that’s where our missing friend had mentioned he’d gone before. He’d said he spent a lot of time in cheap hotel rooms on the Mission side of Market and sitting in movie theaters. We took the theaters while others checked hotels, restaurants, and parks. It was fun. The theater managers were sympathetic and let us walk up and down the aisles after waiting a while for our eyes to adjust to the semi-dark. We did all the theaters on Market Street and ended up on Polk Street. Looked in the newspaper and realized we’d hit all of them in that area. We were walking to the Castro Theater at upper Market when Jim asked what about calling Fred. Fred! Of course! Why didn’t I think of it?
There was a pay phone nearby. I always kept a list of phone numbers in my wallet and Fred’s two numbers were there. He was at home.
"This is Fred. What can I do for you?"
I said hi and asked, "Where’s John."
"He doesn’t want you to know."
"We’re looking for him."
"He says he doesn’t want to be found."
"Yes, yes, I know but we’re worried about him and want to find him. Where should we look?"
He said he wasn’t good at that, that there are people who specialize in finding others, that there are some that can give you license plate numbers. "And he might not let me know, might not let me in."
I urged him to try. He did get in and soon mentioned the name of a street, Van Ness – closer to Market, not way down toward the bay.
"No Fred – that’s where Jim and I are right now."
"Well he walks by there every day. Goes down some street that comes in on an angle not far from there."
"That’s where his house is. He’s not staying in his house. We’ve been checking it."
"He’s not staying there. He's in a hotel. You won’t find him on the poor side of Market this time he says. He’s on the other side, in a nice area."
Fred had more to say that I forget. Not long after that our friend was found in the Hilton Hotel near Union Square. He and the abbot had a talk and they agreed he’d go to Tassajara to join in on the practice period, an exception to the rule that one had to attend from start to end. I sent him a letter describing what Fred had said and got a reply saying he didn’t know how Fred knew but it was all right on.
Dolly Ware’s family was close to my family. She said my father introduced her to a life devoted to understanding body, mind, and spirit. "Your father told me when we first met to find out all I could about the pineal gland." She said he’d dropped all the peripherals, concentrated on the essence, and died in a state of perfect enlightenment. Dolly was a student of Max Freedom Long and was into all sorts of psychic and New Age pursuits before there was a New Age. He passed on his library to her and she was with him when he died. He wrote about Huna, Hawaiian native religion. Priests in it are called Kahuna. Sometime in the eighties I visited Dolly in Fort Worth and she had a life-size poster of a figure on her library wall with lines coming from points on the body to explanations of what a scratch or an itch there meant – with Fred Kimball’s name prominently featured as the source of this information. That’s when I learned that Fred was a Kahuna.
photo - Fred and Muriel Kimball
Under the photo it reads:
Kahuna Fred Kimball, D. D. and wife, Muriel - Lorefounder: Clairesthesia.
Searching further I learned that noted Kahuna Lani "was initiated into the several Huna Priestcrafts or Lores by their Lorefounders or their genealogical descendents: he was trained in the Huna Lore of Clairesthesia by Kahuna Fred Kimball, DD."
Found Fred’s astrological chart here. It says he was born in Providence, Rhode Island, on Nov. 12, 1904 at 3:45PM and with this bio: American author and psychic, noted for his ability to converse with animals, revealing accurate details of their lives and their master's activities. He was skilled as a natural psychic and a homespun psychologist trained in the occult. He penned "The Language of ESP in Action." [arranged and edited by his closest student, Don Schuster]
A Texas acquaintance named Bob Howe had originally suggested I look Fred up when I first went to California in the spring of 1966. Bob was Dolly Ware’s son-in-law. Bob had worked at the Edgar Cayce Foundation in Virginia Beach. Mother was into Edgar Cayce. She took me to a talk by his son Hugh Lynn when I was twelve. Bob always knew what was happening in the parapsychology field, had been in contact with JB Rhine at Duke University, the academic center for such study. It was at Dolly’s home that Bob told me about Fred. He said there were a great medium and a great psychic in California. I said I wasn’t interested in the medium but I’d check out the psychic. I’d been a pot devotee for a little over a year and that had redirected my life, caused me to focus more on understanding mind, but a few psychedelic experiences had convinced me to quit messing around. I wanted enlightenment and was on a search for a guru and a community that meditated. In LA I checked out the Self Realization Foundation and the Vedanta Center. I was ready to go north to San Francisco but there was still that note about Fred Kimball from Bob Howe. OK. Why not? So I got to know Fred.
In 1969 I dropped by Fred’s home in LA with a couple of friends who were going to Fort Worth for the holidays with me. The woman had been a serious student of Christian New Thought that I’d been raised on, what I call non-theistic mind only Christianity. She came to the Zen Center as soon as she arrived in San Francisco because we were old friends. She fit right in, sat a seven day sesshin in full lotus. Suzuki Roshi was impressed with her, talked to me about her. She was doing it because it’s what her new friends were doing. With no prior discussion, Fred told her she couldn’t practice two religions, had to choose one. That was the end of her Zen fling.
The guy with us went to sleep when Fred started to read him. Fred didn’t comment on that, just said my friend didn’t want to hear anything about himself. I talked with Fred a while. When my friend woke up I told him what Fred said and he said okay he was ready and got a reading.
It had been a couple of hours plus. I asked Fred if his power diminished after reading this long and he said he could keep going full strength as long as the money was coming in. So we started asking him about friends just saying a name and waiting for what came up.
About our Zen friend in charge of building the new kitchen at Tassajara, Fred tilted his head and asked if he was enlightened. We said we wouldn’t know. Fred said he had an unusually clear mind but he only saw things in terms of black and white. Fred said something has held him back. He should have gotten a PhD. I said that’s because he’s super dyslexic. I heard his wife signs his checks. Fred said he got where he wanted using another route.
About the builder’s wife who supposedly signed the checks, Fred said she always had to be doing something, didn’t stop. He said that she, who didn’t join in on the zazen meditation, was the person who’d benefit most from it. Later in life she became a yoga teacher and a devoted follower of an Indian guru.
"What about Richard?" Fred said here was a guy who could get knocked down three times and get back up, that most people can only be knocked down twice.
Tell us something about David, Bob asked.
"Say he wants to know something. He's the type of guy who walks into a library, goes to a shelf, picks out a book, opens it to a page, reads one sentence, puts the book back and walks out."
That rang true for ADD me.
"Who killed John?" I asked, seeing if I could get anything out of him on the Kennedy assassination.
"You don’t know this person," he said. "I have no way to get to him."
We went on for an hour asking about friends by just giving a name. It was a little indulgent. We taped it all and, as I recall, someone at Tassajara transcribed it but I haven’t run across that in going through my archives. I’m sure it would differ somewhat from what I’m remembering. I gave one friend the tape whom we’d asked about and when he returned it he said he wouldn’t have listened if he’d known how good Fred was. He felt like it was intruding and said he was depressed about what he heard.
In Texas, I’d let my mother listen to parts and she wasn’t too pleased with what she heard. She took notes as usual. He’d said she'd had to harden up to hold things together after my father died, that she’d had to suppress her femininity. And he said her sister Bruni had lesbian tendencies. My cousin Phil heard that. He wasn’t out of the closet yet but I noted his smile. I’m sure he doubted the validity of a psychic reading. His mother Bruni would have too. She read scientific journals and was a firm atheist materialist (though many psychics and spiritual seekers are not theists). Two experiences had made her wonder. One – she was impressed with the book, Psychic Research Behind the Iron Curtain. The other was something she remembered after her husband’s autopsy revealed he’d died of a cerebral hemorrhage. Thirty-five years or so before that, she and my mother had gone to a fair in Wichita Falls when they were home from Vassar - around the summer of 1932. There a fortune teller had told Bruni she saw her future husband with the top of his head removed.
My mother’s parents were atheists, or more accurately, didn’t believe in or think about anything beyond or unknown. My mother got her introduction to a wider reality from my father. I talked to her mother about the general subject at times. I asked Granny Reich what about Papa, her late husband, "lifting tables" with friends during the war when there wasn’t so much to do. She laughed and said he’d later denied anything had happened. I’d talk to her abut the interconnection of everything in space and time and other dimensions and what I thought the word god was intended to stand for. She’d sigh and say, "Well honey, I just don’t know." I’d say, "Neither do I, so we’re in agreement!" and she’d laugh. In her late eighties she started cozying up to the possibility of a continuation after death. She’d say, "Maybe there is something to it."
In February of 1988, Elin and I, on our way to Texas, were having dinner with a couple in Santa Fe. I’d gotten them on the line with Fred on prior visits. I had just said I’d heard Yogi Bhajan, guru of an ashram in nearby Espanola, was a fan of Fred’s when the phone rang. It was a call from mother that Granny had died – a week before her 99th birthday. I’d have preferred she’d have waited a few days till we got there but it was a relief. She’d been totally senile and bed-ridden. We'd had one visit five years before, when she was half way to dementia, wherein she all of a sudden snapped out of it and we had a pretty lucid fifteen minute talk. Elin and I agreed to drive that night to Fort Worth. But first a call to Fred.
I asked Fred to find Hulda and after we’d gone through preliminaries he said, "Says she was ready to go a year and a half ago. She says she felt helpless but not now. Doesn't feel old anymore, more like she's seventeen."
"Ask her what she thinks of life after death now."
"She says it’s sure not what she expected." I had him on speaker phone and we all laughed. "She says she’s seeing people she never thought she’d see again," he said, using the term people loosely.
That reminded me of what my father’s mother said to my mother from her bed, fading away at 95, not having seen a doctor in decades,. "Oh Ahdel, it’s so beautiful there, I’m so happy there.." And then she started naming names: so and so’s there and so and so’s there.
I asked Fred to ask Granny if I should go sit with her body, a practice many of us in and out of the Zen Center followed, and he replied, "No, she says she’s fine. Go help your mother."