Leaders Guild News and Update
About the Murshid Samuel Lewis' biography project
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 blogs that others and myself wrote on various things as they evolved.
The blog material is available at http://www.ruhaniat.org/index.php/current-news-and-inspirations. You will be able to get more details about the unfolding of this project there.
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.
Rosina Gabrielle Horeth, 77, of Princeville, Kauai, formerly of New York and California, died on January 12, 2016. Rosina was a sweet soul, and dear friend of the Dances of Universal Peace. She is remembered as a retired IBM technical writer who ardently attended Wilderness Dance Camp for many years.
Rosina was born in Romania, and still spoke with a seductive east European accent. All smiles and all heart, Rosina always loved the sense of Unity, beauty and peace that flowed through the dance circle. Her beauty, intelligence and gentle sweetness will always be etched in our hearts.
Rosina left a portion of her estate to Dances of Universal Peace International. We are moved by her generosity, and have designated this gift to begin an initiatives fund to support the Dances of Universal Peace. We envision Rosina's legacy manifesting in significant new projects - Dances reaching new areas of the world, deepening the transmission of the dances within our Dance family, and fostering the transmission of the Dances to the next generation.
Let's all follow Rosina's example and remember DUP International in our wills.This is a way to ensure that the Dances of Universal Peace continue to bless humanity for many years to come.
Thank you, Rosina!!
Last November, New York City's Dances of Universal Peace circle accepted an invitation to participate in the city's 11th annual Dance Parade on May 20, 2017. In late April, the Dance Parade board of directors called to invite the DUP circle to focus the opening ceremony before leading 10,000 dancers down Broadway in the planet's largest dance diversity celebration. With the "Dance for Peace" theme, it was easy to hear Murshid Samuel Lewis' voice in the invitation and the group delightedly accepted.
Later, it was announced that the Ruhaniat was hosting the annual "Federation of the Sufi Message" on the same weekend at the Abode in upstate NY. The DUP circle waited until three pre-parade weeks before inviting potential Dance Parade participants far and wide. Even on short notice, 35 dancers of many ethnicities, born in 7 countries, residing in 11 cities and 7 states on both coasts signed up.
Parading and praying are generally considered mutual exclusive activities. Planning was necessary to cultivate love, joy and peace while maintaining a sacred, prayerful atmosphere. Preparation included praying for one another as new dancers joined the list almost daily, setting clear intention, and selecting simple mantric dances appropriate for loud-but-devotional singing and movements to be communicated bodily with little or nonverbal instruction. Dancers prepared in attunement, resonance, and vocal projection.
On parade week Tuesday, Gayatri Kull represented the DUP circle at the NYC City Hall press conference. Said Dance Parade funder and executive director Greg Miller: "With all the rhetoric of walls and xenophobia, it's important to acknowledge and support cultural treasures across the world and here in New York. This year's honorees all demonstrate commitment to promoting unity, diversity and humanity in their art and work. Dance is truly a universal language.
On Friday night the circle met to pray together; to attune with one another, teachers, and New York City; to take up tassawuri walks of Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan and Murshid Samuel Lewis; to explore expansive, embodied sound practices; and to choose appropriate dances, adapting circular movements into line and serpentine formations.
Saturday's opening ceremony began with "Rock-a' My Soul" as dancers encircled dervishes turning in the center. Over the next four hours, 75,000 people watched 160 groups representing 80 dance styles, the largest Dance Parade in history. For a glimpse:
Maintaining a devotional atmosphere while publicly singing sacred names of many religions while dancing down Broadway in one of the planet's most diverse cities calls for both courage and sensitivity. Nothing prepared the group for the waves of ecstatic joy and appreciation pouring back in response.
A surprised Muslim woman in hijab smiled joyfully upon hearing "Allah, Hayy, Huuuuu...!;" as did three likely-Muslim African men. A man who seemed to be Jewish jumped up and began clapping and dancing with the circle to "Shabbat Shalom" and a young Hispanic family, hearing "Altissimo Corazon," wrapped their arms around one another, rocking back and forth to the music. Those of many religions and of no particular religion responded with delight throughout, with one woman even attempting to climb under the parade fencing to join the dancers.
Dances, spirit and all, were "caught" rather than "taught" throughout. The Dances of Universal Peace circle was welcomed warmly at every step, as this pilgrimage of sacred names unfolded in an atmosphere of what Murshid SAM called "warm delight in the Divine Presence." Though truly generous, dancers easily received at least as much as was given as a "battery" was formed with onlookers.
to the NYC DUP circle and to everyone who traveled to participate. It is a tribute to this sacred transmission and the group's spiritual maturity, even though many hadn't met one another until the weekend, that the capacity for attun
ement, harmony and shared service was well-established in advance. DUP leaders Elena Lopez Sans, Uwais Bernard, Mariam Casdin-Silver, Malika Salazar, Gayatri Kull, and Siddiqi Schott served seamlessly as did guitarists Uwais, Malika, and Siddiqi, and drummer Ryan Rodger who also arranged for "mesh backpack" guitar amplifiers. Mariam Beth Casdin-Silver served as local contact.
Would the group do this again? It's too soon to know; certainly this year, it was individual and collective guidance to be there!
In Memoriam Zahira Madeleine Bullock
Reprinted with permission from Spirit Matters, June 2017
Zahira was born Madeleine Mary Newport Tinley in the United Kingdom on 20th April 1927, and passed away in the presence of her family at Canberra Hospital on 20th May 2017.
Madeleine married David in 1954, becoming Madeleine Bullock. They had three children, Coralie, Christopher and Katrina. After being widowed in 1986, Madeleine travelled for a year to relatives in South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. She returned to Canberra with her inner guide telling her she "must sing and dance".
Madeleine discovered the Dances of Universal Peace, hosted dance leaders in Australia, and travelled to the United Kingdom and the Glastonbury Festival in 1992. There, on Midsummer Day at the local Sufi meeting she was initiated and named Zahira by Amida Harvey.
Zahira Madeleine Bullock embodied the dances, led dance circles, and mentored dance leaders. Those touched by her passion for the dances and her hospitality, recall with affection the years when the dance meetings were held at her home at Weetangera early on a Saturday evening, and she would be shooing twenty or more people home at midnight.
Zahira was made a Life Member of the International Dances of Universal Peace. Her training with international leaders of the Dances of Universal Peace, the retreats she organised, the newsletters she wrote for a decade, and the support she offered generously have sown the seeds for the foundations of the Dances of Universal Peace community in Australia. She truly lived up to her Sufi name - Zahira - often translated as brilliant, shining, luminous, radiant and also helpful, supporting, blossoming and flourishing.
When Saadi Neil Douglas-Klotz established the Abwoon Study Circle Zahira was drawn to this Native Middle Eastern tradition which offered "a path that transcended political and religious conflicts". Zahira extended her friendship practically, locally and internationally through this any many other groups.
Over three decades the inner guidance that she "must sing and d
uncovered her natural voice and developed the inner feeling of unity, patience, gratitude, interest and indifference which she directed to all that was brought to her and all that she met in the course of being cared for. The greater the challenge the more Zahira she became.
This year Zahira wanted 'everybody' to attend her 90th birthday. The party went according to her wishes on a beautiful autumn afternoon at the hall in Corroboree Park, Canberra on 22nd April.
When Zahira was ready to leave her birthday gathering, her wheelchair was brought, and Chorus of Women drew everyone into a circle while singing a beautiful song. Chris guided the wheelchair to do three rounds of the circle, during which Za
hira made strong eye contact with most people in the circle. As Chris backed the chair out of the circle Zahira gave that queenly wave of Unity with the One.
"Send upon her Spirit Thy Mercy Thy Compassion and Thy Peace. Amen."
The link below will take you to photos & detailed text on Dances of Universal Peace Australia website celebrating Zahira's 90th birthday, and achievements for DOUP and in the Canberra community,
Thank you, Zahira, for enriching so many lives.
The editor adds: the following video shows Zahira saying, "I think it's rubbish that dance is only for the young." It demonstrates the breadth of her dance leadership and experience beyond DUP.
On the Path
Have you noticed the photograph behind "Login" under "My Info" on the "Leaders Guild" page of our website?
If you have visited the Dalai Lama in his place of residence, then you most probably have walked this very path yourself! It is the path leading to the palace of the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala.
May our path lead to fruition!
Board of Directors - summary of meetings
The Board of DUP International meets annually in April, and at four or five meetings during the year provides the governance for the organization, in support of the Guidance Council
Approved minutes of Board meetings are published on the website. A summary of the meeting is made available after each meeting. If you would like to receive the summary in future, please contact Aziz Dixon.
The Guidance Council would like to congratulate and acknowledge all the Walks and Dance
leaders who have been certified or recognized as Mentors in Training or Mentors over the last
several months, since our last newsletter:
Rahmana Gaile Sickel (AZ, USA)
Aziza Yolanda Aguirre (WA, USA)
Karima Alison Halderman (OR, USA)
Jihan Gigi Amer (CA, USA)
Judyth Chandra Devi Reichenberg (WA, USA)
Karima Catherine Palmer (MD, USA)
Bettina Shakura Heidsiek (Germany)
Lakshmi Lambert (CA, USA)
Wakil David Matthews (WA, USA)
Patricia Basira Villasenor Ruiz (Mexico)
Cibele Yaci Soares Santos (Brazil)
Akbar Matias Man (Argentina)
Anneliese Blanchard (CA, USA)
Morgan Rivers (IA, USA)
Monica Gupta Garrido (Chile)
Sreemayi Dania Edwards (BC, Canada)
Tereza Neumann Moura Bezerra (Brazil)
Daniela Cristina Cunha (Brazil)
Pat Tamosetis (ON, Canada)
Majida Jean McElhaney (New Zealand)
Joaquim Kremer (Belgium)
Fabrice George (Belgium)
Bonnie Parr Philipson (OR, USA)
Drake Meadows (MI, USA)
MENTORS IN TRAINING
Andrea Scheffler (Germany)
Hayat Donna Bain (VA, USA)
Dominique Asherah Boyer (France)
Mike Karim Hadden (England)
Rabia Pamela Hance (NJ, USA)
Barakat Carolynn Bryan (AZ, USA)
BarbaraAnne Rich (NM, USA)
Quadira McLeod (CA, USA)
Nurjamila Rosa Elena Blanco (Costa Rica)
Zahir Roman Orest (MN, USA)
María Mercedes Duque (Colombia)
Mercia Xavier de Andrate (Brazil)