August 4, 1976

Letterhead: Sufi Islamia Ruhaniat Society (The San Francisco Bay Area Branch of the Sufi Order)

August 4, 1976

Dear Mansur and Ayesha, Beloved Ones of God,

Allah mu barak! [The blessings of Allah be upon you!]

This will be mostly newsy and to a certain extent ‘confessional.’ Let’s begin with the Lama Maqbara Camp in late May.

As you will recall, six years ago I landed in the hospital with a kidney disease. In the intervening years I thought that everything had stabilized and that I had the battle licked. But beginning at the Lama Camp I noticed that my energy kept losing ground no matter how much I kept “Ya Hayy, Ya Hakk” on my breath or footsteps. It was a disturbing phenomenon but I didn’t say anything because one never likes to give an inch to negative impressions.

Next, I went right into full day rehearsals for Allauddin’s composition for eight massed choirs (see enclosed libretto) a day or two after returning from Lama. Then, with no break, I helped Fatima do her jewelry booth at the Marin County Fair for five days. It was during this time that the boom was lowered, as it were. And it was during this time that one’s behavior really started getting ‘way out.’

The Marin County Fair atmosphere, if such surroundings can be properly termed ‘atmosphere,’ has always proven to be destructive to one’s finer feelings. This year was worse. Somewhere between the third and fourth days I picked up an extra five pounds of weight—which is a danger sign for anyone with kidney problems. And from that time it never improved again.

As to my strange behavior, and you may find this simultaneously hard to believe yet easy to sympathize with, Mansur, I actually went out and bought a Suzuki GT 250 Hustler for $850.00. My concentration had retrogressed to such an extent—but had at the same time sharpened to pure one-pointededness—that even Fatima was drawn into my sphere of concentration. She, however, reacted strongly a short while later the day of the purchase. And from that time on I knew no peace. I felt that Murshid was mad, that God was mad, and I knew Fatima was mad—but damn it, I was going to keep that bike come hell or high water, both of which came in abundance!

Well, the last time I rode the bike was out to see Dr. Whitt in Point Reyes Station. That was the same day I went into the hospital, and I haven’t paid any attention to the bike since then—except to place an ad in the Shopper’s Gazette to sell it. The new edition is due out today, so I expect the calls to start coming in.

I also expect a good response to the ad which reads in part: “Less than 100 actual miles. Husband in hospital, must sacrifice this showroom bike. Crash helmet and Chilton manual free…”

When Joe Miller called me in the hospital the first words out of his mouth were, “Did you ever stop to think that your motorcycle might have caused you to land in the hospital? Don’t you know that nine out of ten guys with kidney problems ride motorcycles?” I had no answer. Then Joe went on to matters of the heart.

As things stand now, we are awaiting the results from tissue-typing and other compatibility tests to come in from my brothers and sister. If a good match is found we shall go ahead with the transplant operation. Hemodialysis three times a week is keeping me out of mischief for the interim, but believe me it sure feels like an interim.

Enough of that.

Basira has come to California again to live apparently. She telephoned last week but caught me at a time when I didn’t feel too sun-shiny, so I cannot tell if we had much real communication. For all I know she may have been in a similar state. I forgot even to mention to her about the tremendous work at the Maqbara this summer—an inexcusable oversight.

Your postcard caught me perfectly. Haven’t seen the new Message yet but will look for it in the mail today. Your remark that perfect health is a kind of ecstasy hit home. For me even partial health is ecstasy!

Later today I have an appointment with the lawyer to ask questions about a will, legal guardianship for the children, etc. When one brushes so close to the wings of Azriel certain measures must be taken. Not that one forevisions tragedy, but as long as I’m going to be subject to general anesthesia and the scalpel I want to prepare for the unlikely too. Murshid’s own lack of an up-to-date will made for certain problems. And who expected him to leave really?

I’ll not be planning any travels for a while, at least until the transplant and a period of convalescence, so the seminar tour we spoke of at Lama will have to be a future concentration. But if you help me concentrate on such a tour I feel assured that it will happen, inshallah. It will also help me orient my best energies in a proper direction. In that sense the Work of the Message can be a healing.

I’ll wind up now, as I have an interview with Zeinob [aka Clair (Gwen) Bernham] in a few minutes. Hope you will put up with the rather stormy tone of this letter. It’s the first, and hopefully, last, attempt made to bare the events leading to one’s present state.

And yet one’s present state is as it has always been, and as everyone’s state has always been: immaculate, undefiled and full of Peace and blessings.

As-salaam Aleikhum!