Monday, July 30, 2012


Before I arrived at Mount Madonna, a beautifully wooded yoga retreat center in the Santa Cruz mountains, I called ahead to reserve a place. The girl answered, "We are holding a retreat. There is no room here for you to stay. Sorry." I drove there anyway. The office manager made an exception and allowed me to sleep in my van on the property. That evening, I went up to a woman named Sami sitting alone at one of the tables in the dining hall and started to talk to her. She said, "I'm trying to be alone, so I can stay more present to the energy of the Sufi retreat. But don't go. I'll talk to you." So I asked her about the retreat. She said, "We just ended 3 days of silence and Pir Zia will be speaking over the next 3 days." Pir Zia is considered the great Sufi Master in the US. I had been to Sufi meetings before. "I would like to see Pir Zia one day. I've heard of him. It would be great to connect to the energy and learn from his teachings." "Well, let me ask the coordinator." So she stood up and soon returned. "He says maybe. That's better than nothing." A few minutes later, the coordinator himself came to join us at our table. I stood up and said, "Greetings, Wahaab!" And I gave Wahaab a big hug. I knew him and his wife, Batina. Good friends from Austin. They had helped me to connect to one of my great harmonium teachers. "My gosh," said Wahaab, "it is amazing to see you again." "What are the chances?" I exclaimed. Then he circled Pir Zia's talks on the retreat schedule and said, "You can come to these events." So for the next 3 days, I listened in person to the deep wisdom of Pir Zia, one of the great Sufi Masters of the West. He spoke about prayer and the generous legacy of Abraham from the Bible. I also listened to a beautiful Sufi concert and participated in a lovely group dance one night. One of the participants called me a retreat crasher. Yes indeed, I am a retreat crasher. What an honor to be with Pir Zia! My eyes filled with tears of gratitude. Let me incorporate his wisdom into my own teachings for the benefit of those who would hear me in the future. I spent many hours with Babaji too, the rare yogi who founded Mount Madonna and whose presence is a great Light in this world. In the early mornings, I took wonderful yoga classes, and in the evenings, I joined arati to Hanuman at the temple. After the retreat, I thanked Wahaab and Batina as well as my good friend, Sami, for the great honor of participating in this Sufi retreat. The retreat ended on the very day that I had planned to leave Mount Madonna. I can only bow to Grace who brings such spiritual abundance to life. May I surrender to Thy Will and let go of my own. With love, Brian.

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