cuke.com what's new | table of contents | Shunryu Suzuki Index | donate

People Index

Vocha Fiske White
(1890-1974)

 

SFZC Wind Bell article on Vocha Fiske White with a photo of a ceremony at the City Center marking her passing

We called her Vocha and referred to her as Vocha Fiske. I forgot the White name. Everyone liked her. She lived in the first floor room behind the office and was a delightful addition to the practice and feeling of the building. - DC

I was reminded of her when Amertat Cohn sent out an email about her. From that message:


I'd like to kick off the Weekend of Women this coming Saturday with my dear friend Vocha Fiske. Vocha Fiske White enthusiastically cheered on young seekers in my movies Sunseed (1974) and SunSeed-the Journey (2020). In an era when spiritual teachers were mostly men, she was one of the few women who identified as a Buddhist teacher in the counterculture.
 
Little is known about her early life. She apparently encountered the teachings of Murshid Samuel Lewis (“Sufi Sam”) in the 1930s. She began to practice Zen Buddhism around 1950. She was an actress and named a Communist sympathizer in the 1950s. She was also a teacher and a student of General Semantics at San Francisco State University for about 20 years.


[The rest from Amertat is straight out of the Wind Bell link above]

Here's a video clip of Vocha and here's where it came from on Amertat's Sunseed site. Also here on Youtube

Vocha on Murshid Sufi Sam which reveals a great deal about her past such as her relationship with Nyogen Senzaki

from Murshid Samuel Lewis Archives

From reading this, it's clear Vocha was a long-time friend and advisor to Sufi Sam. She told him, "Don't push too hard. It doesn't need to be pushed too hard." - DC

Remembrance by Fiske, Vocha

Murshid’s Biography—Vocha Fiske May 4, 1971

WALI ALI: Why don’t we begin with you telling us how you met Murshid.

VOCHA: It was in the early 1930's in L.A., Murshid, then called Sam, had come to Los Angeles with Luther Whiteman, you will recall he did all of the research on that book "Glory Road” which dealt with several avant garde or off-beat movements, and Luther introduced me then to Sam as he was called and I also met him at the same time, because his friend Paul Reps was still married to a girl who he called Estelle, and Murshid knew this flower child and had gone to see her, and I met him there, and that was the beginning of our forty years of friendship, and as you know, Murshid had the delightful habit of writing letters. I have never known how many he wrote to me in the course our friendship and I saved a great many of them, until I gave up my home on the desert, and I could no longer keep a great many things, and I had to dispose of them. Do you want to ask me the text question?

WALI ALI: When you met him in the early days, what was he like? Because he evidently went through a number of personality changes.

VOCHA: Murshid went through several personality changes. when I first knew him, he was quite scornful of a great many people, who had won some recognition in the world. At the same time, he was quite envious that he had recognition, because as you know he had a brilliant mind, I had never known anyone, and I can say this with no reservations, with the erudition that Murshid had. And I could quite well understand his feelings, that he ought to be recognized. But at the same time he had several behaviors, that might keep that recognized from him.

WALI ALI: When did Ruth St. Dennis come into the picture?

VOCHA: Ruth did not come into the picture until 3 or 4 years before her death. And her death occurred in '68. So, it wasn't until the end of her life. Murshid may have met Ruth years before. I knew her for 50 years, but if he had known her before I never knew it. I only knew it at the time I was living on the high desert the Mohave, and Murshid would come to Hollywood, then he always went to see her. And he felt very close to her, and felt decidedly that she inspired him, in fact gave him on another plane many of the dances that he taught the group here.

WALI ALI: We’ll get back to this relationship later, concentrate on the period of the thirties.

VOCHA: Yes. Murshid, and Luther Whiteman also, had done some articles I remember the title of one, that certainly was Murshid’s that was labeled "Antics, or Semantics." You see Semantics was just coming into some kind of notice then, and Murshid did a very funny article. Now when this came out in a Social credit paper that Luther Whiteman edited, of course it went away, as all such papers do. It came out for about a year or so, and then disappeared, it was called "Controversy," and this article, I used to have a copy of that, but I don't any longer, and I don't know who might have a copy of it.

WALI ALI: What was the background in general semantics, what was controversy? And where did general semantics come into the picture? What was general semantics supposed to solve, and how did Murshid get involved?

VOCHA: General semantics was supposed to look at how words influenced the human nervous system. And Murshid's interest in it was that it was a new tool so to speak, although the Buddha certainly in the Lankavatara  Sutra, said, about all that is important about words, and Murshid knew this, but this was an up-to-date, it was a scientific, terminology , that was being used, and so you see, he became interested.

WALI ALI: Do you know when this interest started, when he was studying with Cassius Keyser and so forth?

VOCHA: Yes, it did start then, because Cassius Keyser was one of the few professors—and he had great standing as you know—that admired Alfred Korzybski's  book, Science and Sanity and he had written a splendid review of it, and it began I'm sure, through Cassius Keyser that Murshid began a new interest in Semantics, and that went on until it was a part of Sam, or of Murshid, in the draft of what could be done as far as the Arab and Israeli question—in the first paragraph Murshid writes: "It's largely a question of Semantics."

WALI ALI: He felt Semantics could be used to solve problems, and that somehow or other people that had become the generals of Semantics, lost this conception.

VOCHA: Yes, particularly Don Hayakawa and the San Francisco group, they all became anathema, as it were to Murshid, he felt that they were just playing around and as a matter of fact I, studied under Korzybski for 4 years, I know of no one who is seriously using General Semantics. In ways that Korzybski suggested, it could be used…

WALI ALI: What were some of those ways?

VOCHA: Some of those ways were: to have very clear understanding of the different levels at which one used key terms. And to, if necessary, index the level at which you used the term. Let us take the term religion, this is a very confused and wobbly term, If one indexed that and said now in this context, my usual term religion, refers to, and limit the way that it does refer, you would have much fewer disagreements. Does that make that clear?

WALI ALI: It makes it clear. Now this, when were you studying with Alfred Korzybski?

VOCHA: I studied with Alfred from 1935. I was the one who brought him to Los Angeles, and until after I had taught for him, in 1947, at his institute of General Semantics which was in Lakeville, Connecticut.

WALI ALI: Did Murshid have any connection with Alfred Korzybski?

VOCHA: No, not directly. He admired Alfred very much. And in fact some of the more recent letters, that he sent me, spoke about the need of people reading and using Korzybski 's work, and when you think of the tangle of our communication, is in, there is something in that.

WALI ALI: I've seen a letter-head that he had with Luther Whiteman, it was called propaganda analysis, that was going on or in these days.

VOCHA: What was going on in those days, was that there was a great burst, as it were, and not from the academic level, but there was a great burst of activity of new ideas. For instance there was the epic movements in politics, which Upton Sinclair was very active in, and then of course the coming on the scene of Howard Scott's technocracy, and in a way, I suppose you could draw some similarity between that period in the early '30's and this present period. But the difference was, it was the old people then who were interested in new ideas new solutions, and today it is the young people. Praise be.

WALI ALI: And what was Luther Whiteman like, do you know?

VOCHA: Yes, I knew him many years, Luther Whiteman came of English stock, and he began in public relations and spent all of his life. He was a man who was interested in forward looking ideas, ideas of social credit, which we don’t know anything about now, and of course was then a very new idea, in the 1933, 34, 35 and in there. Luther believed in that, and championed it. And something happened to Luther, after he was divorced from his wife of many years, and he came down to Hollywood, and then Luther had two different wives; he I would say that he never really found himself, he was a splendid friend, the man with gorgeous sense of humor.

WALI ALI: Did Murshid have much of a sense of humor?

VOCHA: No, he was too wrathful, in the early ‘30’s, to show much of a sense of humor, but I do hope when you are thinking about his style, in writings, you will remember that he had a most delicious way of coining words, which became very apt. This is the main reason that I regret that I have none of his letters, because often I would take and underline when he had done this with a word that seemed particularly effective.

WALI ALI: Nyogen Senzaki was in Los Angeles in the late ‘30’s, isn't that right?

VOCHA: Yes, and it was from there, he was sent when the war came, to a so called re-location camp, which was in Wyoming, and he stayed there many months, during the war time, and he returned in ‘46 to Los Angeles. And I met him in '47, of course Sam had known him before, Murshid had known him before, I would like to rather do this chronologically, now, and when I say that I mean the first period to me, in which I knew Murshid, was the period when he was free-lancing, doing things that just came to him, and it was before he had gotten into his period of writing people all over the world, that interested him to write to. What he was thinking and making proposals. Making proposals about many what I call it social movements of the day, and an idea came to me then and I should have immediately spoken about it. Then came the period when Murshid was off on his trips to the Orient. I knew him during two of those trips, and those trips lasted two years each. Of course he made many many contacts, and it seemed to me, from his letters, that there was a great sense of joy, when he got to Cairo, and he got into the Muslim world, and this I can remember to myself, reading these letters of his, and of course he was tremendously interested in soils, as you know, and I distinctly remember some of his letters when he went over to Baluchistan, and places many people never heard about, and taught, with different contacts that he made there, as to what could be done, about their soils he certainly, to the discredit of the United States, that no one in influential power ever listened to what Murshid had to tell them about what could be done with soils. I recall very well, a party that we had in Hollywood for Murshid just before he left on his first trip to the Orient, and he was extremely happy he was going. And this is the first time I can remember that he felt from everyone who was present, there were about 30 to 35 people, in the studio in Santa Monica, who gave him approval; this was something, I was to see blossom. The last two years of his life. But this is the first time that I saw what kind of a human being he could be when rejections, the scorn of many years, had all dissolved. Then after he returned from that trip, I should say that there came a period in his life, as I said before, he was very busy, writing letters, to people expressing his ideas, and he always as you know, wrote congressmen, and expressed himself, and sometime when I would answer his letters I would say, "Don't push it too hard, it doesn't need to be pushed too hard." But at that period Murshid tried, he over-tried let us say, and that completely disappeared too, that was a very fine thing.

WALI ALI: I think you finally got to the point, where he had enough stuff to push this tremendous will that got behind things, he was bound to over-shoot his bounds because there were so many things which he was getting a response to, follow-up who he had so much enthusiasm, that….

VOCHA: That's likely true now. Then of course he came back to San Francisco, and it was then that he called San Francisco, as far as I can remember it, this was right after world war 2, "Baghdad by the sea," which of course was Herb Caen who later took that without any acknowledgment to Sam, and referred to it as Bagdad by the sea. But in later years Murshid had quite a correspondence with Herb Caen.

WALI ALI: Mostly one way.

VOCHA: Mostly one way, then of course the international society of General Semantics had become established in San Francisco, and Murshid tried very hard, I won't say, to become a part of that, and yet he did, and he felt again their rejection of him. Now this was because, according to Lloyd Morain, who was a very influential in the society—Murshid complained about never being asked for any articles to print in ETC. magazine and Lloyd said he did ask, and Murshid never gave him any articles, and expressed his opinion to me, he did not believe that Murshid had ever written any article. That seemed to me a very strange thing, because I would feel that Murshid wouldn’t say that he had an article if he didn't have, it was like him. But I don't know, it was another great advance when Murshid gave up feeling that it was important for him to appear in a chapter of a magazine, and it all happened when he later came into his Sufi teaching. Now let me see, there are some other things. He met, through me, Dr. Oliver Reiser, who is now an emeritus head of the department of philosophy at the university of the Pittsburgh, and Oliver had a project that he had written a good deal about, called, "Krishna and Prometheus." And it's quite obvious Prometheus handing the Eastern world and Krishna the Western world. And Sam became well-acquainted with Dr. Reiser through correspondence, and Dr. Reiser is different from a great many university professors and other people whom Sam had written many letters, he always did reply, so this was very active, the contact between them, and it was for Dr. Reiser that sent the one newspaper notice from the Chronicle, of Murshid's passing, and I had a splendid letter from Oliver, saying, I am glad that I knew Sam, he was such an interesting man, I have many letters in my file from him, and it pleased me to feel that Oliver cared, he really cared for Sam, a man who was extremely modest and the fact that he was on the board of the science with Einstein and people of similar stature never had played any part in Oliver’s promoting himself, because he never has promoted himself, but it is a satisfaction to me as a person who knew Murshid a lone a long time, that here was one academic contact, who saw behind many different kinds of faces or masks that Murshid used to assume. I can remember very well Murshid coming to the desert, and spending a few days; he did that twice; I was living then on the high Mohave desert. And it was a great satisfaction to walk about the desert with him, because he would make so many comments about the soil and the different plants, that were growing there, it was like a botanical walk, with one who really knew. And I enjoyed it very much. Now what else can I tell you?

WALI ALI: I'd like to have your insight into the last few years of Murshid's life, seeing if you can, how it was a flowering of all his previous.

VOCHA: Then Sam moved to this address; that was before he had actually become established in his dance classes, and in the talks that he would give. And he wrote me from time to time, of the more and more young people coming to see him, and he would always say, they are all such beautiful young people mother divine, and I felt this was the beginning of the happiness and the flowering that came later; he must have been doing a great deal of Sufi studying, he never referred to that, but I feel that he must have been, and then when I came up, two years ago in April, then I came to the Khanka, in Novato, and I came here, end by that time, Murshid was established, in the dance groups that he was having, and he was established is it were in his Sufi work, and he began to show such a change, all of the rancor, all of the desire for recognition, all of the bitterness that his life had brought him particularly his life when he was a boy with his family, had all disappeared, giving, giving giving love to these young people. And they of course were giving it back to him, and they were, Wali Ali, no similitude between the Samuel Lewis that I had met in the early thirties, and the Murshid of two years ago, they were distinctly different human beings, and this to me gave what I call the fulfillment of his life. Through many desperate circumstances, he came to see and to exemplify the one thing on which the Sufi teaching founded. That is love. He gave it and he received it.

WALI ALI: When I was talking to him about this, he told me, "Gavin said, that Sam used to be the most opinionated rancor filled person I ever meet, and I said, of course what I said was, “No one ever took those opinions seriously a few years ago, and when we started listening to those opinions we found there was something behind them, I was so frustrated because no one would ever listen to what I said and think that there was something behind it." And what you said gave me a real key, the send-off before he went on that trip, this was I guess the biggest, he began to get an input when he was surrounded by these young people.

VOCHA: You see the young people were not conditioned as a group, as his own age group had been conditioned by prejudices and beliefs and social, the world as the young people known it is a totally different world than the world the older people have ever known. And so in coming into this “new world," I think it seemed just natural to them to accept the Sufi teaching, and the joy of dancing.

WALI ALI: “Where did he get this joy from, if he had such a terrible life?

VOCHA: I suppose he got it from the fact that there was a great purity, and I use that word advisedly, about Murshid, he had never abused his body in any way, and as he began to peel off these layers of rancor and bitterness, that real thing that was in him that gave him a heart, he just felt spontaneously it’s upsurge, and then there was joy, at least that’s my explanation.

PHIL: I’m interested in getting more on Nyogen Senzaki. More about him and more about possible relationship.

VOCHA: Senzaki? Sam might have, I wouldn’t know about that. He might have done meditation sometimes with Senzaki, but all I knew is that when Sam came to Los Angeles, he would always go and see Senzaki. And there was no meditation or anything, they met friend to friend. And Senzaki was other that what he appeared to be. He appeared to be a most unassuming and quiet, as he called himself, “homeless monk," but he had great law, in regard to many of the Chinese Buddhist texts, and I think Murshid was one of the few people who appreciated that in Senzaki, and at one time, I know Murshid was interested in bringing out some kind of small booklet about Senzaki, and then he learned they were going to do this later at the New York Zendo, and so nothing has happened with that, and I assume a good deal of Senzaki material was found among Murshid’s things was it not. Yes I don’t know what you’re going to do with that.

WALI ALI: We discussed it with Ted Reich and Rev. Wagner, and Murshid gave most of his originals to Rev. Wagner, and according to Ted Reich, the Japanese have plans for this material, which they have copies of, and also  Ruth McCandles has rights to something, and it’s kind of complicated and I don’t know.

VOCHA: I will say this; that I know Ruth McCandles very well, probably better than most women, and if there was anything that you wanted to do and you felt you didn't want to approach her about it, I could serve anyway as a channel, I would be happy to do that. Just remember that.

WALI ALI: Now what about Murshid and Ruth St. Dennis? He was so short and she was so tall and so forth.

VOCHA: I never went when Murshid went to see Ruth. And there was no particular reason that I should. But I know that after I would see him and he had been with her, he was invariably elated. And of course Ruth, towards the end of her life, told me that there were many sacred dances, that she had not been able to give expression to at all. And I think that whatever she knew about Dervish dancing, and she of course, in her group work, never approached anything like it, I think that this was all something I now have to use a very, very loose term, had come to her through the ether. And that was how she got it.

WALI ALI: This is what Murshid said? She taught him how to read dances out of the ether. Do you have any idea of what that means?

VOCHA: I will simply say, that as you know, in the etheric body, one can see, Wali Ali, things happening, that this would be the way that a dancer would come to one. The only thing that I could compare it to, would be what Rudolph Steiner, did, many years ago, there at Donali in Switzerland. And I was there at the end of the summer of '69, and he had a tremendous sense of the etheric plane. And Ruth, for years, things would come to her, she wouldn't know where they came from, but they certainly came from the etheric plane. So That was how she got these dances.

WALI ALI: Was she a serious student of mysticism or….

VOCHA: Ruth was a serious person, she was a serious student of Mysticism, there's no doubt about that in my mind, but she had also that part of her that was so much a show person, that I immediately—anything that she got she would camouflage it with this show business thing. I am quite sure that Murshid got well behind that in his talks and in his contact with her.

VOCHA: And we must remember, that those talks were perhaps no more than six or seven. But they were enough, quite enough, to give Murshid what he needed to know at that time.

WALI ALI: When you first knew him, was there any possibility that he would be involved in dancing?

VOCHA: No possibility at all. When I first knew him. His heart had not yet awakened you see, and dancing is a matter of the heart.

PHIL: Do you know when he began studying folk dance?

VOCHA: No I don't know. Now, there and things that I left out that I meant to tell you. I think I can in fair order now, his early period, and then his trips to the Orient, and then his coming back, and in going through, carrying a lot, that he was rejected by the General Semantics group, and then getting so he didn't care about that at all, and then going into, yes, you see when I first met Murshid, in the early thirties, I didn't know that he and Saladin, as he used to call Reps that time, had some Sufi training with Inayat Khan over there in Marin county. And was it Mrs. Bamberger? Some name that began with B.. She was a woman who then went when Murshid came, to a southern part of the state, lived in Hollywood, and he always went to see her. I never happened to meet her. But she was associated in some way. With that very early Sufi training. Did you ever hear of her?

WALI ALI: No, Did he mention a person named Roderick White or Robert White who had a house down Santa Barbara?

VOCHA: I don't know about that house in Santa Barbara. I do know that Murshid knew the various people who stayed in the dunes near Oceano, but the Robert White house in Santa Barbara, I don't know anything about.

WALI ALI: Did Murshid live at the dunes at any time?

VOCHA: He didn't live there any length of time, he went on various times there, for a week or two. Whereas Hugo Selig, who of course, he passed in '65, Hugo lived there for a long lone time.

 WALI ALI: I'm interested in Hugo Selig because of the way that Murshid referred to him in several oblique ways. I would think he saw him in a very curious occult way, and if you have anything at all, did you know Hugo Selig?

VOCHA: I think that I could say that I knew Hugo Selig, and that I knew him well, and his life was in sense parallel in some ways to Murshid; they both came from very well-to-do Jewish families here in San Francisco, Hugo forfeited all of that, because he simply, as he often used to say, could not be brought on by women. And it meant his mother and his mother’s sisters and everyone telling what you should do. So he went one year, to Stanford, and just decided to walk out, and leave all of that. Now one of these several aunts saw to it that there was a small monthly sum that came to Hugo, and not that he couldn't exist anyway, but that was all any of them would say about it. And Hugo was very interested in the different kinds of yoga, and he was always I would say experimenting with various forms of breathing, and this kind of thing, but he was beyond the law, so to say; he paid no attention to the usual social conventions and so on. He was a splendid person, and he had a great gift of prescience, he could look at a person, and often would make strange remark what you ought to be doing. And after a while you would find that Hugo was right, even if you didn't accept it to begin with. But Hugo had much more poetic temperament than Murshid. Murshid, when I say that, Murshid had many different sides to him, where Hugo did not have so many.

WALI ALI: Did you know Hugo as a Kabbalist in any way.

VOCHA: No, I wasn't interested in the Kabbalah, but if he was he never talked about it with me.

WALI ALI: Have you read Murshid's poetry?

VOCHA: I have all of the poetry that he sent me, that I have read, and it has a great scope to it, great scope, I think it would be a little time yet before people will to grown up to it.

 WALI ALI: Did you read the poem Saladin?

VOCHA: No.

WALI ALI: I want to give that one to you after; Murshid considered that his masterpiece.

VOCHA: Yes, yes alright, that will be fine, now,

WALI ALI: Now what about Rudolph Schaeffer, Did he play an important part in Murshid's life?

VOCHA: I don’t think that Rudolph played an important part. Murshid knew him and they were friendly, but Rudolph had lived an entirely, I will say, too conventional a life. In being an artist, getting his school established as he has done, and that kind of thing. No I can think that Murshid appreciated going there from time to time, the harmony and the rhythms and the colors in the studio, themselves, but no, I would not say that Rudolph and Murshid, actively re-acted to one another.

WALI ALI: When Murshid first moved into this house he lived with Ed Hunt, and later there was tension because of all the tension of all the young people coming over and Ed decided he should leave. Do you know anything about that?

VOCHA: Yes, Ed Hunt met me, when I played Mary Magdalene, in the Pilgrimage Play in Hollywood, and Ed was one of the singers at that time, he had a fine baritone voice. in those days. And Ed and I have known one another all of these years, and I would simply say that Murshid would constantly keep opening and opening, and Ed kept closing and closing and closing. The last time I saw Ed, was a little while after Murshid’s going, and Gavin Arthur invited Lloyd Morain, and Ed and me to come for an evening in Murshid's memory.

WALI ALI: That must have been interesting.

VOCHA: During the course of the evening, I kept trying to say, "We are here to talk of Murshid," and one of the three of them would say, "Yes we know.” And then they would right on talking about themselves. As you know, Gavin talks completely about himself. And Lloyd does likewise and certainly Ed can. So there as very little honored of Murshid, and I will say that these "gentlemen" had a chance to express themselves about what they thought about life. Now I know Gavin and Murshid were good friends, I've known Gavin for a goad many years but only in a slight way, I never really got close to him although he has warmly invited me to come see him many times, and this last time he did particularly. But the effort of going up the stairs where he lives rather precludes, Wali Ali, by that you see. And I really don't know if it's necessary.

WALI ALI: It really is a curious phenomenon the way Murshid kept, as you say, opening and opening and opening, it was like, astrologically his Venus conjuncts Saturn and Uranus, and this helps explain his love nature took so long to nature, and when it did mature it was a very….

VOCHA: That could very well be, I never knew when Murshid birthday was, that was something we never discussed and I don't even know when my birthday was. These things didn’t seem important to him. When was his birthday?

WALI ALI: October the 18th, 1896.

VOCHA: And my birthday is October 23rd. 1890 you see.

WALI ALI: After he came back from his 2nd trip to the Orient, this would be around 1963, I guess, did you notice any change in him, what was his general place?

VOCHA: He was still interested in a great many of the social chances and in what could be done in helping the countries in the Middle East, and he did write a great deal of letters, to which there was no attention paid what-so-over, to members of the government on different levels, as to their being a change, now that you mention it, it does seem to me, that he was more centered, more composed within himself, that doesn't mean that he couldn’t go off on a tangent. But still there was a feeling of more centering in him.

 WALI ALI: I'll tell you what I'd like to get into, which is: if you can let your memory play on any kind of anecdote or personal sort of life that you remember.

VOCHA: I think it's very interesting that I never knew, despite the long years that I knew Murshid, I never knew anything about his relations or his interests in women. This was something that he never talked about, we always had a great deal to say to one another, he of course taking the lead in conversation, when we were together, but I suppose you might say our friendship developed on higher levels only, and these things never seemed important, but I do remember very well that it was after his second trip to the Orient that Murshid had for a time the habit of singing his letters Puck of Pook's hill. And he sent me a picture of himself that had been taken, and he’d labeled it, Puck of Pook's  hill and I felt it was some kind of sprite, a masculine sprite. And a person doesn't usually associate any sex with any sprite but, Pook's hill was a masculine sprite; how long that lasted I don't remember, I suppose I got letters from him for a year, when he was Puck of Pook's hill and then it went too. I see you smiling, Wali Ali.

WALI ALI: I've seen that picture, I have a copy of it somewhere, of course I've never seen any evidence that he was anything but Brahmacharya his whole life, if anyone has anything to say it would be interesting, it certainly was for a person who came from the upbringing and attitudes towards sex, that he had to dea1 with all the problems with the young people who came to him in the last years of his life. And he had the most broad un-clutching outlook of any one, of course we don't know if he had any sexual relations with women at all.

VOCHA: No, and I wouldn’t know. But my guess would be that Murshid’s life had been celibate, this would be my guess, and with all of the negative things that his family seemed to saddle him with for the earlier part of his life, they however did give him one thing, and that is, the Jewish conventions, in regards to the refinement of the body, and this kind of thing.

PHIL: He mentioned several times that he was engaged. I heard up to five times he was engaged to marry. Do you know anything at out that?

VOCHA: Only that I heard him make that statement, but who the women were, I don't know anything about that.

PHIL: Ted Reich mentioned, that he knew nothing about that either.

WALI ALI: And I think you two are probably his closest friends, he mentioned to me once that you were his closest friend. I don't know if he had any real personally close, in that sort of way, where he sort of opened up, the ins and outs of people.

VOCHA: I just don't know. I soon after I met him, it came to me very clearly, what this man needs is love, and I can say, Wali Ali, that all over the many years that I used to write him, I make it a practice to take out the good, the constructive things his letters had said, and comment on that. I don't think I ever once wrote a negative thing to him, because it was so clear to me, that what he needed was love, and not love that we would call it, of a personal intimate kind. Murshid lived actually in other dimensions, than just one, two, three, four; he lived in other dimensions, this is why, I'm quite sure, Dr. Keyser’s work, and his friendship with him, meant so much to him, because of course Keyser is superb about other dimensions, and I think this answered something in Murshid. I don't know if I'd said anything or not, but I tried to express it.

WALI ALI: We're all just talking around it, and sometimes occasionally even by accident we say something. During the periods you categorized as the free-lance period, what was the sort of things that he was doing?

VOCHA: He would write me that he wanted to do an article on such and such. Now whether he ever did or not I don't know. because I never saw his files, has you got a lot of articles by him?

PHIL: What he had up until 1949 was destroyed in a fire. His whole library, and all his….

WALI ALI: Not quite everything, he took the most important things.

PHIL: He took one box about yea big, but the rest was destroyed. Destroyed what was perhaps the finest occult library in America or at least on the West coast. And all of his research, all the important things.

VOCHA: I don’t remember about that, but did he do much writing after ‘49?

WALI ALI: We have most of the writing that he did, which is a commentary on Inayat Khan, poetry, we have a number of short papers which he did, he went to college eternally, his college career.

VOCHA: I only understand that he had originally majored in plant pathology, soils and something else. Now, that was when he was young, he was through that, now there were a great many years when he was doing a different thing, then he began going back, and taking course after course. It used to interest me to get a letter from him saying, he was taking so and so's course, Buddhistic art and so on, "Why do you want to waste time Murshid?"

WALI ALI: That was amazing to me; he even took me to a couple of the courses, and he continued even after he became well known and respected attending these courses, and some of us would be sitting there listening to the professor, and he would have the most gentle attitude towards someone. and if had decided to speak, he would have been 10 times more erudite on the same subject. But yet he was able to sit there in this humble attitude.

PHIL: He delighted in the fact that he always got "A's."

VOCHA: That was a sort of a hang-over from the days that he needed something of approval, and I would expect him to get "A’s."

WALI ALI: He got "F," in one course I know: "in god is dead theology."

VOCHA: I’m trying to remember. Searching the tablets of my mind. I've spoken about Dr. Reiser, and I’ve spoken about Reiser.

WALI ALI: You made a comment to me about Senzaki's mind, would you like to….

VOCHA: Yes, I felt of course, that I knew Senzaki for 11 years, before he passed, he was a human being, the only human being I had know, who had a transparent mind, I mean. by that, that he could see literally through things.





what's new