Biography, Autobiography, Journal and Anecdotes
Part II - Autobiography
Diary, 1923 - 1926
October 1923. The response to the Message was as usual in Geneva. I had great pleasure in making the acquaintance of Paderewsky and his most responsive wife, who has thought on philosophical subjects for a long time. In all the hospitality I received in their home what I valued the most was Paderewsky's few minutes at the piano in which he gave life to that thought which I always had, that a great soul in the East or West, is great; that music ennobles personality, that music is intoxicating, it brings ecstasy. In Paderewsky I found the example of this.
At Morges, which is more or less a musical place, by the kindness of the friend of India, Monsieur Rene Morax, a lecture was arranged. I spoke on the power of music and my lecture was attended by music-lovers, among them Paderewsky with his family. I spoke at Lausanne to an appreciative audience. My lectures in Basel and Zürich were well attended. Herr Glaser in Basel and the Strauss family in Zürich were most helpful in making my lectures successful. I was pleased to see in Switzerland as responsive a mureed as Fräulein Burkhardt, who arranged lectures at Rapperswil, which were well attended. I met in Rapperswil Frau Hilda Meyer, who not only responded but became a mureed. Her thoughtfulness and appreciation for all that is good and real, and her great zeal in trying to bring before others what seemed to her good and beautiful, I found to be most valuable.
Since Frau Hilda Meyer has joined the Order she has been a great blessing to the Cause. From the moment she came, the work in Switzerland has really begun to flourish, and we hope that by her worthy collaboration the Message will indeed spread in that land of beauty. We also recognize the important work she has done in bringing out the literature in the German language, the credit of which is due to her. She has generously responded to the call for help from any side of the Sufi Movement. I found in her a promising mureed and a dependable friend.
From Switzerland I proceeded to Italy, accompanied by Murshida Goodenough and my Cherag Fatha Engle. We were received in Florence by Marchese Gentile Farinola, whose most kind and gentle nature together with the bright intelligence of Marchesa Farinola gave me great pleasure. Besides it made me happy to see the acquaintance the couple had already made with Sufism, which is so rarely to be found in the Western countries. Through these our kind hosts some lectures were arranged in Florence, where I had small but most appreciative audiences.
We saw Lady Sybil Scott, in whose house Graf and Gräfin Wurmbrandt were staying, friends of Murshida Goodenough. I was glad to make acquaintance with Contessa Bacciocchi, an educationist and Signorina Giuliani became my mureed.
The nature in Florence was most fascinating for me. I passed my few days of visit in this sunny land with great pleasure. I gave this farm to look after to my faithful mureed Mrs. Hanifa Sheaf, and went to Rome.
Rome made upon me a great impression. Once after having seen the Church in its glory in Russia, which I did not think I could see anymore, I witnessed in Rome that glory of the old Church still in existence. I went to see the Church the like of which I have never seen before in its form and beauty and in its grandeur. The troops of priests to-be, fifteen, twenty or hundred, moving about hither and thither, gave me quite a new sight, which never in my traveling through the Western world I have seen. I attended some services at the Catholic Church, and what I learned from it was that it was all a preparation, which a service is meant to be, a perfectly organized drill by which to learn to respect man, above all a spiritual man, and in the end by bowing and bending to mankind – which represents spirituality – to arrive at worshipping man (the son of God), God's representative. I thought it is the very sentiment that is needed to waken in man, though it is done in a narrow way; and yet in no other way can it he very well done. The present deplorable condition of religion that is to be found in the Western world is owing to the lack of the same principle which, it seemed to me, the service of the Roman Catholic Church taught: the lack of veneration for one's advanced brother. The spirit of the present generation is: "I am as good as you." When a soul has nothing to look up to, it drops its wings, and a soul who was meant to be a bird, remains a beast.
I was introduced at the Vatican where I happened to see Monsignor Cascia and through him Cardinale Gasparri, the Secretary of State, who asked me "What did I mean by wisdom ?" From the explanation of my idea and my work the Secretary of State saw the importance of it by hesitatingly admitting it with consent and half-consent. And in a ceremony where I was kindly invited, my heart felt it was confirmed by the touch of the Pope's blessing hand.
I gave three lectures in Rome, mostly attended by Theosophists, free thinkers and religious people also. The response there which I felt indeed, exceeded my expectations. Dott. Assagioli kindly translated my lectures in Florence, also in Rome.
I was glad to make acquaintance of Professore Formichi, a Sufi in spirit, and through him was glad to make acquaintance of Contessa Spaletti Rasponi. I found in her the ancient manner with modern culture, noble spirit in simplicity. Her enquiry into the work of the Movement and her keen interest in the seeking of truth brought us in a closer touch.
The group of students of the new mureeds was carried on by my sincere mureed Miss Angela Alt.
On my return from Italy I occupied myself with the work in Paris. Several new persons became interested during this my visit to Paris.
I proceeded to Belgium and was most delighted to see a page in the book of our Movement turning. The credit of this is due to Mejuffrouw Sakina Furnee who by the help of a devotee to the Cause, Mejuffrouw Hayat Rahusen, endeavored to waken up the Society there. I spoke that time at several places and gave Mejuffrouw Sakina Furnee the charge of acting National Representative.
During my visit to England in January 1924 I met de Heer van Stolk from Holland, whose joining forces with me made my heavy burden easier for me to carry. He accompanied me in my journeys.
We first visited Geneva, where we found the work going on smoothly. Baronesse van Hogendorp was busy forming a preparatory group for the study of Sufism, I then proceeded to Bern, visiting Lausanne on my way. Herr Baur had prepared in Bern for my lectures, and my Message met there with response.
De Heer van Stolk accompanied me on my second visit to Italy, where I had some work of cultivating the ground for the Message.
I passed then through Belgium to Holland. During my short stay in Belgium I saw members in Brussels, and I found that the old workers, such as Madame Graeffe and Dr. Bommer, had retired and the whole weight of the responsibility and work fell upon the Acting National Representative, Mejuffrouw Sakina Furnee; and the patience and courage with which she has carried out her work impressed me deeply.
On arriving in Holland I found that the work of the Movement was progressing. The facility for classes and services and readings that Baron van Tuyll, the National Representative had given in his own house was indeed a step forward. On this occasion I stayed in Holland for a short time.
Then de Heer van Stolk helped me greatly in taking upon himself the organizing of the Summer School at Suresnes. Since he has taken this work in hand, the Summer School has flourished splendidly.
I was for a week in Geneva, to attend different Council Meetings, and was glad to see the great zeal shown by the workers of the Cause. I also visited Basel, Zürich, Rapperswil and Lausanne.
It is since the last three months that my wish of establishing a Press Bureau in connection with the Sufi Headquarters has been materialized by the unceasing efforts of Mr. Armstrong (Sheikh), a most enthusiastic worker of the Cause and the Cherag who introduced Universal Worship in South America, with the help of Miss van Hogendorp, whose soul soaked in the Message, always giving me the joy of seeing her gradual unfoldment.
I took a second tour through Germany and met various people, among them Baronin A. von Grünewaldt. I spoke in München once at the Park Hotel and twice in the Steinicke Saal, also at Dr. Arthur Ludwig's house, to appreciative audiences, and left a group of mureeds in charge of Mrs. Hoeber, my American mureed. Then I proceeded to Berlin, staying with Herr and Frau Triebel. I gave my lectures at the Urania Hall. There was no doubt a great response given to my lectures from all sides. Only the difficulty of translation was excessively great. I felt the spirit in Berlin changing; nevertheless the minds of the people are still sensitive. Baron and Baronin von Barany were made Cherags, and I left the group of mureeds in charge of Miss Oliver.
We then proceeded to Sweden, where Dr. von Reutercrona had kindly arranged some lectures for me, before a small gathering of people.
I greatly enjoyed the beauty of the country and the simplicity of the people there. It seemed to me that Scandinavia was quite a different part of the world compared to Central Europe. The effect that the worldly life has produced in Central Europe and in the United States of America, has made the inhabitants of these regions partly too clever and partly affected morally and physically by too much strain of everyday life. Both these things seem to be less prevailing yet in Scandinavia.
I did not have as satisfactory results as I had expected to have, for the reason that I went before the ground was cultivated for the Cause. Fröken Haglund, my sincere mureed, kindly tried to do all she could to serve the Cause. Herr Nyrop and some other mureeds formed a group, and the work was, however, begun in Stockholm.
I had the great pleasure of seeing the Archbishop Nathan Söderblom from Upsala, and was pleased indeed to know that he was working to bring together all different Christian faiths. And I was glad to hear him say that this was the first step; that showed me that he believed in the second step also. He was busy at the time we went to him with a school in which he is interested. (Sigtuna). Therefore we had a short meeting; but I left with an impression of his thoughtful personality.
I then proceeded to Norway, and gave some lectures in the University of Christiania and for the Theosophical Society there. Destiny brought me together with a soul who belonged to us; I only had to go to Christiania in order to find her. It was Fröken Susanna Kjösterud, a soul whose heart was open to the Message. The Message only had to reach there in order to find response in her. Those who became interested in my teaching, including Herr Björset, formed a group in Oslo, which was carried by Fröken Susanna Kjösterud.
I found a different atmosphere in Norway from that I had felt in Stockholm. People there seemed to be of democratic spirit and they responded more readily to the Message. I went from there to Bergen, a beautiful place near mountains. The atmosphere in that place helped my lectures to make a greater and deeper impression upon the people there. Fröken Thistle and some others became mureeds, and the work has been continued there since then. The credit of my success there was mainly due to my mureed Mejuffrouw Murad Rahusen, who by the help other kind friend Fru Isaachsen, a deep lady of artistic sense and broad views, was able to arrange my visit so splendidly.
I had to hasten back to Germany on the invitation of Professor Görcke to speak at Urania Hall again, three times, at Berlin. On our way back Providence brought us together with Dr. Steindamm, in whom I found the spirit of the worker, who inspired me with the hope that the Message will spread rapidly in Germany, if the Movement there were organized on a sound basis.
I visited Holland on my way back and was glad indeed to see the great zeal that Baron and Baronesse van Tuyll showed in furthering the Cause in their land. I saw the Society in The Hague flourishing, and was pleased to see that Jonkheer van Spengler had joined forces with the National Representative, to help him in his responsible work. I was touched by the way Mejuffrouw van Braam was working in Amsterdam, without many helpers at her side. I was pleased to hear how busy Mevrouw van Ingen has been giving lectures and creating interest in her part of the country; and the new step Mevrouw Eggink had taken in having rooms in Rotterdam for the work of the Cause, I thought to be splendid. I appreciated very much the service that Salamat Hoyack rendered to the Cause.
On my way back, I stayed in Belgium, and for the first time visited Liege. I valued Mejuffrouw Sakina Furnee's work more and more each time I have visited Belgium, knowing how hard it is to cultivate that ground in absence of any helpers. It would not be an exaggeration if I said that the Movement is alive in Belgium by the living enthusiasm of one person. No words of praise can be adequate for the patient working of Mejuffrouw Sakina Furnee.
January 1925. On my coming to Paris I found our venerable friend and worker Baronne d'Eichthal as busy as ever. The wonderful talks that our most trusted worker Murshida Goodenough gave to mureeds and friends in Paris kept up the rhythm of my Message during my absence. I spoke at the Musee Guimet, at the Sorbonne, and gave lectures at the drawing room of Baronne d'Eichthal. Paris has so many distractions that it is found always difficult to keep the thoughts of the mureeds concentrated on one line. Besides, for many and various reasons, members seemed to be scattered. It is by the most sincere devotion of Mejuffrouw Kismet Stam to the Cause that she made unceasing efforts to keep threads together, thus keeping alive that flame which was once kindled from being blown away by the continual attacks of the sweeping wind.
January 1925. I was delighted as ever to visit Switzerland, the land of beauty and charm. I appreciated the cooperation of Fräulein Burckhardt in literature, also the services of Herr Baur in it. It always has, and it always will make me proud to see in Khalif Dussaq, Talewar, the devotion of a rare quality, the profound understanding of human nature and his firm faith in the Message of God. The kindness and the warmth that he and his sister, Comtesse Pieri, poured out to all those that came to the Headquarters embraced all in the Sufi warmth. I must not let pass without speaking of it, the great enthusiasm that Naqib Mevrouw van Hogendorp has always shown in serving the Cause, having proved faithful in all conditions and circumstances. She has been a voice in the wilderness. In Monsieur Zanetti I saw a growing interest for the Message, which he showed in controlling and carrying out the administrative part of the work every day better and better. In Monsieur Zanetti we indeed have a most precious help. I had a greater response in this year in Bern, Lausanne, Zürich, Rapperswil, and Basel. I should think it is because the lectures were organized better, the credit of which is due to our most worthy National Representative, Frau Meyer de Reutercrona (Sheikha).
I went to Italy, where Miss Angela Alt had charge of the Movement, who worked there so wonderfully in a country where discrimination and tact are most necessary. I appreciated very much the desire to help the Cause by Mrs. Sheaf, who settled in Florence with that intention. I saw a great many difficulties that stand in the way of the worker in Italy, but in spite of that Miss Alt did splendidly. I gave lectures at the British Institute, at the Biblioteca Filosofica, and at the Association for Religious Progress, and created some interest before I proceeded to Rome. By the great enthusiasm of Mr. and Mrs. Craig several lectures were arranged in Rome. This time there was a greater response than any other time before. Many cultured people joined the group and an interest in the Movement was created in a place where it is not always easy to work. Mrs. Craig I found to be a splendid worker and a mureed with enthusiasm and understanding of the Message.
On my way back from Italy to Paris, accompanied by de Heer Sirkar van Stolk, I visited Nice, where Mejuffrouw Kismet Stam had arranged some lectures in a public hall. I spoke at the house of Comte and Comtesse Prozor, where I was warmly received. The time when I visited Nice being not propitious, nothing much was accomplished, except that Baron von Howen, who took up the work in that part of the country, followed the Message.
I paid a hurried visit to Germany, first visiting Berlin, and gave three lectures there in the month of March in 1925. I found Frau Triebel as kind as ever, and Miss Oliver busy working, Baron and Baronin von Barany carrying the load of responsibility, and Dr. Steindamm, who was made a Sheikh, showing a growing enthusiasm. I met with the same difficulty as before with the translation of my lectures. From there I went to Munich, where Mejuffrouw Kismet Stam was able to gather up mureeds scattered here and there, giving them a new enthusiasm. She arranged a series of lectures for me. I had the same response from people as I always had in Germany.
On my return from Germany I spoke a few times at the Sorbonne.
In the month of April 1925, I visited and spoke at Bournemouth, and also gave addresses to mureeds in Southampton. Circumstances did not permit more to be done in England this time.
I began working at the Summer School, better arranged this time than ever before by de Heer van Stolk. I was glad to notice the generous response of mureeds to secure the piece of land intended to build the "Universel".
Sixteen Cherags were made, and Monsieur Zanetti, Baron van Tuyll and Khalif Maheboob Khan were made Sheikh, and Fröken Kjösterud and Mrs. Hoeber Sheikha.
This time the Summer School was better attended.
Immediately after the Summer School our yearly Council meetings took place in Geneva, earlier than usual, which were much more lively than in the previous years. For those assembled at them showed intense desire for the furtherance of the Cause. I noticed more clearly the present spirit of the people and nations, knocking at our door also, which to me seemed to be a strange psychological phenomenon. In spite of differences which gave the meetings a modern tone, I felt each one taking the welfare of the Movement too much to heart with the best intentions. I marvelled at Monsieur Zanetti working so wisely under all circumstances.
My plan about going to the United States remained indefinite till I heard from de Heer van Stolk that arrangements were being made for a lecture-tour beginning from New York. I reached New York on December 6th and had no difficulty whatever with the port-authorities as before, thanks to our friends Mr. Cosgrave and Mr. Chase Crowley. I was glad to meet Mr. Shaughnessy at my arrival. I was a guest of Mr. Crowley at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. For the first week there was a rush of newspaper-reporters calling on me, and after I had given all the points which touched my philosophy and work, after even I had won the sympathy of some of the Press representatives, I found that in the papers it was said quite differently and often quite the opposite to what I had said. In the place of a horse it was a donkey, and in the place of a man it was a monkey. At my first lecture at the Auditorium of the Waldorf Astoria, there was a great crowd. Some of them came from the advertisements, some of them from the reports the newspapers gave, some of them came to see some phenomena performed on the platform, some out of curiosity; and some had the patience to stay there five minutes after they entered the hall. Nevertheless it was a success. It made me wonder as to what the world wants: truth or falsehood. Souls unconsciously seek for truth, but are delighted with falsehood.
The cause of the following series of lectures not being well-attended, to my mind was that those lectures were given too late after the Presstalk. Also the advertisement was not continued in the same measure as it began. But some of my friends thought that my voice did not reach. They did not mind if my inspiration was blown away by shouting, as long as my voice reached the masses. Others thought that I did not speak quick enough for the American mind. I laughed in my mind thinking: how did they expect the weight of Divine inspiration to be carried quickly to the hearts of the mortal world. However, it is the experience of many that New York is a hard field to work. Nevertheless many acquaintances were made, much has been accomplished, several mureeds joined the Sufi group there.
I was asked by the Theosophical Society to speak on the coming world Teacher, and on Mrs. Besant's proclamation about it. But I thought that such a lecture must be given by someone more competent on that subject, and so I refused it. I was invited at a dinner of an Occult Club, where I heard everyone talking freely on their occult experiences. I felt diffident to talk before its members, who, each of them seemed to have their specific opinion on the subject. It seemed to me a democratic Movement toward the investigation of truth, or of falsehood.
I saw Mrs. Otto Kahn, and was pleased indeed with her sympathetic attitude. I met with some most interesting men at the lunch given by Colonel House; the president of the City College, Dr. Turner, the governor of New Jersey, Mr. A. Harry Moore, Dr. Carrel of the Rockefeller Institute, etc.
Mr. Crowley, knowing my interest for writing plays, took
me to several theatres, giving me the idea of the modern
play. I thought the modern play is a step forward in civilization,
but the people who have already lost ideal, are still further
removed from it by the help of the modern play.
I was very glad to visit the Rockefeller Institute by the kindness of Dr. Carrel. He asked me if it is true that there is a supernatural power. I said, "There is a power, but I call it a natural power. People call it supernatural because they do not know it to be natural." He showed me the new electric machines in which is produced a tremendous power of electricity. Also the solutions which keep the cells of the human body for many years. I told him that there is that electricity in the human body also. But he asked if it can be utilized for a certain purpose. I said, "To a greater purpose still." I added that: "In regard to the cells which you are able to keep so long, there existed a science in the East by which they used to keep bodies undestroyed in the ground for hundreds of years." Dr. Carrel asked me if it is possible to lift a pen from the table by the power of thought. I said "Yes, it is possible, there is nothing impossible; only why should a mystic strive to lift a pen, if he can lift the heart of an by his power to a higher ideal."
In Mrs. Shewan who joined our Movement, I found a very interesting student of life.
I gave some lectures to a small number of audience at the Lenox Theatre, which were much appreciated and which brought several members to the Sufi Movement.
The enthusiastic collaboration of Mr. and Mrs. Frey impressed me deeply. The center which was so well taken care of by Mrs. Cushing, was then given in the hands of Sheikh Fatha Engle, to carry on the work in New York. Several Cherags were ordained before I left for Detroit.
My mureeds Mrs. Venable and Mrs. Hurst had arranged a series of lectures at the Twentieth Century Club. My lectures were well attended because of good publicity. I was invited by the Woman's Press Club in Detroit to give a lecture there. Dr. Watson from Canada came to Detroit to meet me there. I had a very interesting visit with Mr. Ford. When one compares his simplicity with his great success in the business-world, one cannot help thinking that he is a great soul. Mr. Ford intuitively has been believing which has been known to the Sufis for ages: that to some in the time of their distress and at the time when they must accomplish something worthwhile in life, there came invisible forces to help them. It interested me to hear him say that, "What I have searched after all my life, you have found it." He added saying that, "If you were a business-man, you certainly would have made a success, but I am glad that you are as you are."
I went to San Francisco, and was glad to see there Murshida Martin, the mother of the Sufi Movement in the United States. I spoke at San Francisco at the Fairmont Hotel to a very large audience and was introduced by Mr. Paul Elder. I also gave a series of lectures to a selected audience in the Sufi center and spoke at Oakland and Berkeley and at Paul Elder's Gallery. I was interested to speak at the Woman's Press Club, where I met with many interesting people. I had the pleasure of visiting the Oriental house of Mrs. Frank Havens, and I heard Mr. Vandernaillen explain in a most interesting manner about the Mayan philosophy. Mrs. Havens asked me the same question about reincarnation which she had asked me and I had answered in 1910 and in 1923. I repeated the same answer, but I believe that she wished that question to ring around her always vibrating so that an answer may not reach her, but may be drowned in the noise of her question. Murshida took me to show me the Khankah, which is situated in such a beautiful nature. The house is intended to be a place for meditation for mureeds who wish to take a retreat in the solitude. There was a large rock that belonged to the Khankah which was named Pir Dahan.
I was glad to visit Dr. Abrams' Institute where they kindly explained to me about his system. It interested me very much that even scientists come closer to the idea of vibrations.
Several Cherags and mureeds were made.
A devoted mureed, Saladin Reps, drove me to Santa Barbara. Murshida Martin accompanied me on my tour through California. After one lecture before a fair number of audience in the Recreation center, and after ordaining some Cherags, I went to Los Angeles. In Beverley Hills I first received Press representatives and then I went to La Jolla and San Diego on a short visit, where I spoke to fairly large audiences. In San Diego I went to see the place made by Mrs. Tingley, and found the spot to be most beautiful. My first lecture near Los Angeles was given in Pasadena, in the Church of the Truth. I felt the Church was already truth, what more have I to say? But still I tried my best to say little, and the audience, including the clergyman, responded very well.