Issue #58

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Issue 58—February 5, 1979 to April 16, 1979


After a brief stay at Brockwood en route to California after their long trip to India, Mary and Krishnaji return to Ojai, where the freshness of their new surroundings reinvigorates them. For much of this issue, Mary and Krishnaji deal with the aftermath of their trip to India, and Mary tries to solve the problem of her Malibu house sliding into the sea.

The Memoirs of Mary Zimbalist: Issue #58

Mary: We begin on February fifth, 1979. Krishnaji and I are at Brockwood for a few days for Krishnaji’s usual stopover on his way from India to California. My diary reads:‘Doris lent me her little car, and I went to Petersfield and caught the 9:20 a.m. to London. There was a dustman’s strike, but the English are tidy and pile their refuse neatly in black plastic bags.’ [S laughs.] ‘The city seemed otherwise normal and more relaxed and quiet at this wintry time of the year. It had the wintry gray air remembered from the two years Sam and I spent in London when I had the private pleasure of exploring the city by myself, walking in the grayness, which seemed the breath of London. Today I did two errands, a new watchband from the Swiss watch place on Bond Street, and I met Paul Anstee at Christie’s in South Kensington to see a Japanese vase he suggested as the lamp material I asked him to find.’ That’s that green one on the table in the living room.

Scott: Ah, yes. A nice one.

M: It was going to be auctioned, and he spotted it for me. ‘I decided to bid on it. We had a sandwich in the basement lunch place nearby and just after 2:00 went to the auction where Paul bid on the vase for me. It went for eighty pounds, and I had decided to go higher.’ [Both chuckle.] ‘I brought it back in a Harrods shopping bag. Now, how do I get it to Ojai?’ [Both chuckle again.] ‘Walked up and down the drive with Krishnaji on my return and went to a school meeting.’

S: Now, you must’ve taken Doris’s car to the station…

M: I did.

S: …well, I’m saying the reason is that the gray Mercedes was still put up for the winter, as you were only at Brockwood for a short while, so you didn’t want to take it out of storage.

M: Well, I daresay you’re right, but I don’t remember.

S: Well, it must’ve been. Anyway, just for the record.

M: February sixth, ‘Jean-Michel and Marie-Bertrande Maroger arrived for two days. Mary Cadogan came to lunch. Krishnaji agreed to go to France sometime this year, probably early in October to do a video interview answering questions from French students.’ That never happened. ‘We discussed Indian matters with Mary Cadogan. At lunch, she described her meeting Rajagopal with her husband when they were in Ojai. He was the kindly old gentleman and spoke only well of Krishnaji.’ One of his acts. [S chuckles.] ‘All the rest of the day, I packed, washed, ironed, and all was in order by the time I went to bed at 10:30 p.m. Krishnaji said he felt tired. I suspect the accumulated fatigue from India, which he somehow keeps at bay when he is busy, will seep out now. It will be good to be quiet and in one place for a while.’

February seventh. ‘It was a foggy morning. I made our breakfast and was ready to go early. The Marogers said goodbye to us as they were going up to London for the day before returning to France. Eleanor Hawksley provided a Boots shopping bag on wheels, which was perfect for carrying by hand to Ojai the vase bought on Monday. Dorothy drove Krishnaji and me, and Esme and George Carnes followed with the luggage. We left at 10:30 a.m. and went past the cottage so Scott, isolated by hepatitis…’

S: Ah, yes, I’d forgotten this.

M: Oh, yes. ‘… could wave.’

S: Oh, how nice of you and Krishnaji to do that.

M: It was terrible, you picked up hepatitis in…

S: …in Syria, on the way back from India. Yes.

M: Yes, I remember it. We were quite indignant because as far as one knew, you hadn’t eaten anything or been anywhere we hadn’t been but you had stopped in Syria on the way back.

S: Yes, yes, yes, yes.

M: Well, you waved. [Both chuckle.] ‘At Heathrow, after checking in, we learned our 1 p.m. flight was delayed by fog, which prevented our incoming flight from landing. We sat in the TWA lounge, read, surviving on two cheese sandwiches till our flight, which got in at 3:30 so we could take off at 4:30. We had the two single forward seats in the nose that Krishnaji likes, and he took the one on the left, which he prefers. We read papers, magazines, and thrillers all the ten-and-a-half-hour flight but also slept fitfully. Landed in Los Angeles at 9:30 p.m. It took an hour to round up our six bags and two packages (Indian oil and six meters of sofa cushion material provided by an English decorator, D. Saxby) to go through customs. Mark had the school van to collect us, and we drove past Malibu to Ojai. I was too numb from travel to feel the difference, if any, of not coming home to Malibu. Erna, Theo, Michael, Laura, and Ted were waiting up to greet Krishnaji. The house was beautiful, filled with flowers, in exquisite readiness by Elfriede. The greeting committee soon left, and Krishnaji, quite wide awake, walked from room to room saying, “Do you feel the atmosphere?” and then “I’m glad you have a beautiful house to live in. It is more beautiful than Malibu, and you have a beautiful room in…what’s that place we just came from? Brockwood!”’ [Both chuckle.] ‘And so we have come back.’

The eighth. ‘After only about two hours’ sleep, I woke up, then stayed awake. I telephoned my brother, as he and his wife Lisa were having breakfast. Then, telephoned Amanda for a happy, long chatter. Krishnaji stayed in bed all morning, but came with Erna, Theo, and me to lunch at Arya Vihara. Both slept all afternoon. Dieter’s son came to wake up the two Mercedes.’ They were put up on blocks while we were away. ‘Krishnaji and I had supper on trays with television and quickly went back to bed and slept afterward. The silence and peace of this house is something alive.’

There’s nothing for the next day but, ‘Errands in the village, and slept all afternoon.’

February tenth. ‘I telephoned my stepfather Wooge, but spoke only to my cousin Sally; he is suffering from the effects of an antibiotic taken for an infection. He was in the room, so she seemed rather reticent to speak. This morning, Krishnaji woke up at 1:30 a.m. and stayed awake, and I did more or less the same, so we both refrained from an afternoon nap to try to adjust to the time zone. Krishnaji said he had felt the full atmosphere of this house almost to the point of fainting in bed yesterday. He said when he goes into the living room, it is so strong, “it is like a temple, one goes very quietly.” It is interesting that it is the living room—a new construction, unlike his bedroom and sitting room in the old cottage where he lived so long. The living room is where the jewels were placed in the foundation by Theo at Krishnaji’s suggestion. Theo has given me a map of where “it” is in the foundation of the school main building—always to the northeast. Evelyne and Lou Blau lunched with us at Arya Vihara. Later, Lou, on the telephone, urged me to get an engineer to advise about the Malibu house…’ The Malibu house was sliding into the ocean.

S: You said the northeast for the jewels; was it always the northeast?

M: Yes, yes. Northeast. That I’m sure of. From my memory, not just from what it says; and that’s where you put them…

S: Yes, that’s where I put them at Brockwood, in the Centre and the school.

M: Northeast, definitely.

S: Yes, yes.

M: Um, ‘…about the engineer to advise about the Malibu house. I will talk to him after I’ve gone back to look at it, as it is now. I marketed in the afternoon. Took a small walk with Krishnaji. My cold has come back.’

The eleventh of February. ‘Krishnaji wanted to talk to Erna and Theo, so we did that all morning. Max Falk was at lunch, and afterward Krishnaji and I with Max, Mark, Erna, and Theo visited the new school buildings, which are very handsome. They are larger and better than I visualized. The residence’s main house is particularly good-looking with many good details. The school classroom buildings are woven among the oak trees, scarcely visible from afar, and fulfill the notion of a multiplicity of connected units, which can be added onto, are functional, and don’t look institutional. Zelma Wilson’—that was the architect—‘who designed it has done well. So has Carey Smoot, in spite of all the difficulties.’ He designed the first building, that wooden one.

S: The one with the wavy roof?

M: Yes, the wavy roof one. ‘We walked through Oak Grove and saw that the stable has been moved way back from Besant Road, and then saw the new school vegetable garden made by Carol Andre. Mark asked on behalf of Jackie Kornfeld, who is urging it, whether Krishnaji would speak in New York. I repeated what Parchure had said about his health in Bombay, and Krishnaji let us agree to say no.’ Parchure was saying that he does too much.

S: Yes.

M: The twelfth is only: ‘Elfriede came to clean; Alasdair Coyne came about the garden. Krishnaji and I took a walk to the dip and back. Early to sleep.’

February thirteenth. ‘My cold is better. I made our breakfast and left at 8:30 a.m., Krishnaji remaining in Ojai. I drove to the Dunnes’ and sat and talked with them for over an hour. It was a quiet joy to see them again after nine months. Then, I went across the canyon and saw the alterations Max made last summer in terracing the lawn space. It looks very nice, but there continue to be disquieting cracks in the ground, and some of the railroad ties he put in to hold the ground are askew. Elfriede showed me fine line cracks in the tile’—that house had a tile floor—‘in the living room. They had been under a rug, so we can’t be sure if they’re new. It made me weep to see the beloved house again, but it has been well cared for by Elfriede and Fred and Lori, who was there weeding along the entrance. The garden is healthy and tidy. It is a blessed place no matter what geologic strangeness is going on. I went to town with clothes for the cleaners, and bought a Norelco razor for Krishnaji.’ He was always buying new razors, because he liked the newest electric razor.

S: I know. I remember.

M: And then he would give the old ones away.

S: I got many of them, almost always Brauns, sometimes Philips, but it was…

M: Yes. It depended on what was the latest.

S: Yes, exactly. [Chuckles.]

M: ‘I also got some detectives for Krishnaji from Winky. Then, went to Helen for a needed haircut. Ran into Betsy at Lindberg’s and drove back to Ojai through rain. But it was 6:20 p.m. and dark when I pulled into the garage. Krishnaji came out with an umbrella in his bathrobe and helped me carry the packages. He said they had had an interesting talk at lunch. Bud and Lisa telephoned as I got in to wish me happy birthday. Krishnaji doesn’t remember or consider birthdays, which is as it should be.’ [S chuckles.] ‘Michael had left our salad and soup, so we soon had our trays. Washing up in the kitchen, Krishnaji said he had become afraid alone in the house when it became dark. He had locked all the doors and windows. “I don’t know what I was afraid of, but it was gone the moment you were here.”’

S: So, he wasn’t afraid on your behalf.

M: No. I seem to have some protective something because, I think I’ve already said, he told me once that he would not go out at night anymore in the dark, alone. And I asked, “Well, what if I were with you?” “Oh,” he said, “then, of course, I’d go.” I don’t know what it was. He’s not a man who feared things.

S: No. No.

M: It was…I don’t know what. I don’t want to make up things or what it might be or even imagine.

S: No, but, it’s perhaps it’s like the…

M: He had this thing about being protected.

S: Yes.

M: And I somehow felt as though I were an instrument of whatever protected him. It wasn’t me, it was…they had to have a tool to do it, and I was available.

S: It’s similar to, at the end of his life, when he said, “Don’t leave the body alone.” It’s as if there were things that…well, one has a choice of saying, either there was nothing to be afraid of, and it was all in his imagination; or one has to say that there were things that he was sensitive to that were threatening…

M: Yes.

S: … but that were not threatening when he was with someone who really cared for him and who would protect him, or who was an instrument.

M: And yet he also said, which is sort of the opposite of that, that he is protected.

S: Yes.

M: But, evil wants to get at good, and as it can’t get at him because he’s protected…

S: It goes around him.

M: It goes around him. I’m sure he said that to you.

S: Yes, yes, he said that to me, too. But this is something…

M: You must be careful, you mustn’t go mountain climbing, or whatever it was you wanted to do.

S: Yes, but this is something slightly different.

M: Yes.

S: Because this is him saying there was something he felt that was threatening, but that left when you came; and in your words, you were an instrument for some kind of protection, so that when you were present, it was alright, which is interesting. It’s very interesting.

M: [pause] Yes. And I know when he went and had the operation in the hospital, he was very…instructing me what I must do because he could easily slip away, and I must not let that happen. Well, indeed, it did come up after the prostate operation that we’ve already covered in these discussions, when he started talking to his brother…

S: Yes, I remember.

Third in a series of photos taken in 1934. The other two are framed and appeared in previous issues. This one was among Mary's papers.

Third in a series of photos taken in 1934. The other two are framed and appeared in previous issues. This one was among Mary’s papers.

M: …and that’s when I intervened, interrupted. I said, “Krishnaji,” you know, grounded him, “the operation’s over and you’re fine” and “You’ll be well soon” and “We’ve got lots to do” and I went on talking, talking, talking. And then he said to Nitya, “Nitya, I won’t be coming now. I’ll be coming later, much later.” Make what you can of these things.

S: Yes, yes.

M: Yes. I’m harking on, but he was quite definite in instructing me what I must do, or he might slip away.

S: Yes. What did he tell you that you had to do?

M: He didn’t tell me what to do exactly, but I somehow knew, I don’t know. I had to talk to him, to keep him…not…

S: …not let him slip away.

M: …not let him slip away. And I reminded him of things we were going to do. I just kept talking, and with big eyes, he listened to me. And then, for me, the fact that he then said to Nitya, “I’m not coming now, but later.” It was sort of…grounding him…is the only word I can use, in everyday life, things he would be doing and wanting to do, and the responsibilities. I didn’t put it that way, but that was the gist of it—that he had too much to do with the rest of his life to let it end. [Long pause.]

Anyway, just going back a little, ‘Michael left our salad and soup, so we soon had our trays. Washing up in the kitchen, Krishnaji said that he had become afraid alone in the house when it became dark. He had locked all the doors and windows. “I don’t know what I was afraid of, but it was gone the moment you were here.” Then, a little later, he stood suddenly still and said his head was bad and gave a cry, “What is happening? Why is it so bad?” I watched lest he faint as he returned to his room. He sat on the bed several times, appearing to start to faint and then coming to, then he was sick several times, vomiting in the bathroom. “Is this going to start again? Why?” At one point, he wanted to go back to the kitchen to finish the dishes and to interrupt what was happening, but was persuaded not to. He was able to do his teeth, wash, etcetera, and then went back to bed, promising to call me if it got worse.’ [Long pause.]

The fourteenth. ‘Krishnaji’s head was bad all day. He got up for lunch and went for a haircut to Meiners Oaks. I did errands in the village. Alasdair planted twenty more Ceanothus on the east side of the house. Krishnaji and I walked with Erna and Theo. Lou Blau told me in detail of an offer on Malibu. Will make a counteroffer on Monday. Krishnaji’s head was too bad for him to get out of bed after the walk; he watched TV looking tired and in pain. He said it hadn’t been this bad in years.’

The next day just says that I have a cold, that I felt poorly, was in all day, and that Krishnaji and I both slept in the afternoon. And really nothing the next day except ‘no walk.’

February seventeenth, ‘Krishnaji’s head has been better though the pain is present in the background. It is quiet when he’s doing something, but rises when he is quiet. I’m feeling better. On Thursday, the cold settled in my sinuses, so yesterday I telephoned Lailee Bakhtiar, who prescribed tetracycline, and it is working. Sinus pain disappeared immediately, and the heavy cold is getting better instead of worse. After breakfast, I telephoned Philippa and David in Connecticut, and it was almost as nice as seeing them. In the morning, Krishnaji, full of energy, suggested starting a new series in his Letters to the Schools. So, he went to it, dictating to me number twenty-five, which will be dated and sent out on next September first [1]. He completed the first twenty-four, a year’s supply, at Brockwood before we left for India in October. New teachers and the Hookers were at lunch at Arya Vihara. We rested in the afternoon, then Krishnaji, Erna, Theo, and I walked down McAndrew Road and back. Krishnaji said to me, “We should see more of them and gossip together.”’ [Both M and S chuckle.]

S: Erna and Theo?

M: Yes, ‘So, we wound up taking the pot of soup Michael delivers to us every evening over to the Lilliefelt’s and had a pleasant supper there. We got on to the subject of the Theosophical Society, the Esoteric Section, what the young Krishnaji thought, Masters or not, etcetera. Krishnaji said of his memory that he chiefly didn’t remember things about himself. He did remember, and corrected Erna, on where people were living in the TS headquarters. He said that that wasn’t about himself. He repeated the vague memory he described in India of standing as a boy by the Adyar River utterly empty, and “having a good time.” I asked if he could remember directly Dr. Besant, and he said he could a little, but only in her latter years.’

The eighteenth. ‘Krishnaji dictated number twenty-six of the Letters to the Schools. In the middle of it, the doorbell rang and there was the Russian physics teacher named Alexander Ladizensky, whom Vanda brought to the Rome airport to meet Krishnaji as we were in transit to Delhi in October. He got an exit permit to immigrate to Israel but wanted to come to where Krishnaji is. I rang Theo, who came right over and talked to him until we could all meet at lunch at Arya Vihara.’ Theo could speak Russian. ‘He sat next to Krishnaji at lunch and Krishnaji questioned him about Russia. Fritz, afterward, took him to find lodging, and introduce him to other Russian émigrés, and tomorrow, perhaps, Max can give him temporary work on the school buildings as he seems to do with all comers. Krishnaji, Erna, Theo, and I walked down Thacher Road and around the block. In the evening we watched the second Roots: The Later Generations.’ I don’t remember what that was, some television thing.

S: Roots was about an African-American man who goes back and finds his roots in Africa and in America.

M: Oh, yes. I remember it dimly. On the nineteenth, there’s only that Krishnaji dictated another Letters to the Schools.

February twentieth. ‘It rained. Krishnaji dictated another Letters to the Schools. Elfriede came to clean. Mr. G.N. Dalal of Bombay came from Los Angeles by Greyhound bus, and I met him at Ventura. The bus was late, and we got to the cottage by 6:40 p.m. Krishnaji, worried, was waiting outside with Mark. Dalal is staying in the guest apartment. He gave Krishnaji a donation for the Foundation for $5,000. All, including Krishnaji, had supper at Arya Vihara.’

February twenty-first. ‘Mr. Dalal had breakfast with the Lilliefelts and spent the day being shown everything, then lunched with Krishnaji and others at Arya Vihara, and walked with Krishnaji. I drove to Beverly Hills the inland way, gave the Christie vase to be made into a lamp to Mr. Schwartz, as well as the fabric I brought from Saxby in London to be made into pillows. I did miscellaneous errands and got back to Ojai by 5 p.m.’

The twenty-second. ‘Mr. Dalal had breakfast here with me, then left with Theo for the Oxnard Airport. In the meantime, last night, Professor Ravi Ravindra and his Canadian wife Sally, who seventeen years ago taught at Rajghat, arrived and are staying at the Lilliefelt’s. They were shown around the school in the morning, and we all lunched at Arya Vihara. There was a discussion at the lunch table on what is knowing, which was taped by Fritz. At 5 p.m., after a rest, Krishnaji and I, the Ravindras, and the Lilliefelts walked around the block. The Ravindras leave tomorrow morning and return to Halifax, where he teaches and they live with two children. Krishnaji likes Ravi.’ Ravi’s a nice man.

S: Yes.

M: February twenty-third has only, ‘Desk. Krishnaji rested.’

The twenty-fourth. ‘Krishnaji dictated Letters to the Schools number twenty-nine. I did desk work in the afternoon. Spoke to Naudé. We walked with the Lilliefelts.’

February twenty-fifth. ‘Krishnaji lunched with the Lilliefelts and then spent the afternoon looking at the school buildings and walking over the land there. I left after breakfast in the green Mercedes for Malibu and the Dunnes’. Spent a happy morning sitting and talking and having lunch in the familiar Dunne way, on trays on the terrace. We sautéed cheese sandwiches, which Amanda said I taught her to make on Kearsarge Street.’ I lived in a house that I owned on Kearsarge Street in Los Angeles, years ago! [S chuckles.] Decades, decades.

S: And that’s where you taught her how to make these cheese sandwiches?

M: Well, there’s nothing to making them. You just put them on the grill.

S: [laughs] But this is the first we’ve heard of Kearsarge Street.

M: That’s right. Well, Sam and I lived there a little bit when we married. And then as soon as we built Malibu, we moved to Malibu. ‘Malibu was beautiful…’

S: What number was your house on Kearsarge Street?

M: 11923? I don’t know. 9207? I don’t know. [S laughs.] There’s no use digging in the attic of my mind for inconsequential details, Mr. Forbes! [S laughing.]

S: Why not? Inconsequential details are all that I have in mine.

M: [chuckles] Anyway. ‘Malibu was beautiful; the sky and the ocean were blue in the clear golden air across the canyon to my place, which looked green and very beautiful. It was a very happy day. I left at 3 p.m. Marketed at the Trancas market, got back to Ojai by 5 p.m., and was making soup for our supper by the time Krishnaji returned from his afternoon with the Lilliefelts. The Siddoo sisters arrived at 7 p.m.’

February twenty-sixth. ‘The last eclipse of the sun in this century was around 8 this morning. The garden was in a strange twilight. From the kitchen window I saw Krishnaji in bare feet and only in his nightshirt out on the path. “I wanted to see the eclipse,” he said.’ [Both chuckle.] ‘I rushed him into warmth and a denatured but closer view on television.’ [Both chuckle more.] ‘In the morning, he spoke alone with Jackie and Sarjit Siddoo. Elfriede cleaned. At 4 p.m., Krishnaji, the Siddoos, the Lilliefelts, Mark, Fritz, and I discussed the problems of Canada and the Wolf Lake School. It is costing them $9,000 a month of their own funds just as it is, with only twelve students. Unless they spend millions on more land and building, it cannot expand on the present site. Exactly what I foresaw’—[both chuckle] how annoying such foresight is—‘has happened.’ [Chuckles.] Know-it-all, here. ‘They had no idea what a school entailed.’ It was true.

S: Yes, I know.

M: ‘Krishnaji, in summing up the situation, said he is not urging them to do anything, but his descriptions of, “If you are serious, you will ask what is right, not the cost,” makes an overwhelming pressure.’ [S chuckles.] ‘He was impatient when I pointed that out. He denies that it’s pressure. Then, he gave the example of his telling Narayan to be willing to give up his whole life to Rishi Valley “or, never mind; die, starve, it doesn’t matter what.”’ [S laughs. M laughs, too.] Oh dear. ‘The Siddoos say they can afford to carry on for two more years, but if they fold, they will be impoverished. If they cannot swing the school now, and it seems an insupportable burden as is, in my view, they should get out before they go broke, not wait for that to happen.’ That seems reasonable. [S chuckles] ‘Krishnaji, the Lilliefelts, and I walked to the dip on Grand Avenue.’

The twenty-seventh says,‘Krishnaji dictated the thirtieth Letters to the Schools. I worked at the desk the rest of the day.’

February twenty-eighth. ‘Krishnaji dictated the thirty-first Letters to the Schools. A pool man came and with Theo tried to figure out how to make the pump in the ornamental pool less noisy. I spoke to Lou Blau. The last bid was unacceptable.’ Then, I went on about who should represent it for selling the house. No use talking about that. ‘In the afternoon, Krishnaji talked to a Mr. and Mrs. Farkas, parents in Oak Grove. Mr. Farkas wants to return to Hungary to spread Krishnaji’s teachings, a perilous venture. At 4:30 p.m., Krishnaji, the Siddoos, the Lilliefelts, Mark, and I talked again about Canadian school matters. The Siddoos want to go ahead. In the evening, we watched the television: As You Like It by the Royal Shakespeare Company.’

S: Before we go on, what’s happened to the Siddoos?

M: Well, they sort of um…the place…well, I don’t know. They’re somewhere, but they’re not running the place up there. It’s no longer…

S: It’s no longer a school, but it became an information center for a while, didn’t it?

M: Well, that was just a title, really. I don’t know where they are, actually. I haven’t heard from them.

S: Don’t they show up at international meetings?

M: No. Next year when we have all the Foundations meeting here, they may turn up, just to turn up. I don’t know. I’m sure there’s some information, but I don’t have it.

March first says, ‘Desk, etcetera. The Siddoos leave. I went to the village, then walked with Krishnaji and the Lilliefelts. The weather is cold. Krishnaji and I watched a film of an Indian leopard. It rained in the morning.’

March second. ‘I got a plumber to get a spoon out of the waste disposal’—you [chuckles] have to know all the details—‘and finished in time for going ahead with the planned trip to Santa Barbara. I drove Krishnaji, Erna, and Theo in the green Mercedes. It was a lovely day. The bright sun of California. The landscape is very green. We went the inland way, and Krishnaji was pleased with the fullness of Lake Casitas.’ Lake Casitas is quite beautiful—it’s a manmade lake, as you may know.

S: Yes. It’s very beautiful.

M: Very beautiful. ‘This was my first touring of Santa Barbara since we moved. We lunched in a small restaurant called The Tea Room, sitting under an arbor. Krishnaji had a large enchilada, salad, and cheesecake. We wandered through El Paseo and bought books, then health foods, and drove back to Ojai, where we went for a short walk. In the evening, Lou Blau telephoned that the real estate people want me to “do something” to improve the earth on the ocean side of Malibu. What?’ [S chuckles again.] ‘The earth is moving; I don’t know why or what can be done.’ That’s part of living here.

March third. ‘At 11:30 a.m., parents and teachers came for a discussion with Krishnaji. They asked about authority. I worked on letters.’

S: So, if they “came for a discussion,” the discussion must’ve been here in the house.

M: Yes. Yes, if they came, they came here.

S: Right.

M: The fourth. ‘There was another meeting here between Krishnaji and the parents and teachers of Oak Grove School. We walked in the late afternoon with the Lilliefelts.’

The next day. ‘A warm, beautiful day. Alasdair planted pots, etcetera. Scott Eckersley made a wooden cover and insulated the pump for the ornamental pool so it is silent. I telephoned an engineer about the Malibu earth. In the afternoon, Krishnaji laid basins around the newly planted tangelo trees and I watered all the plants.’ He liked to garden.

The sixth, it just says, ‘Desk. At 4 p.m., Krishnaji held a discussion here with Oak Grove School parents and teachers.’

March seventh. ‘It was a warm, beautiful day. I drove to Beverly Hills. Had my hair cut. Had the car washed. Marketed in Malibu, then went to the house, where I met a geologist about the earth movement. He found cracking in an arc running from the narrow part on the point, up near the easterly olive tree, and around to the edge of Filomena’s garden. He said there were two remedieS: huge earth removal to ease the weight, or drainage of underground water via pipes similar to what was done before, but more extensive. He would draw up plans and get a rig to do it. The county is due to do the same with the entire area above the Malibu road but it may take three years if they do it; mine needs doing right now. He left. The house was quiet, beautiful, and alive. Its familiar soundS: one’s foot on the steps down to the bedrooms, door sounds, wound around my heart.’ You know, there are sounds, I’m sure you know, in all houses.

S: Yes. Just even the way things echo around different houses.

M: Yes. ‘Fred was home. He and Elfriede lifted one of the smaller ocean stones’—that I think are like sculptures, that are right outside—‘into the car, and I brought it back to Ojai. Came back to Ojai by 5:45 p.m. and met Krishnaji and the Lilliefelts walking. Theo had planted seventy-nine agave Americana the length of the south side of the driveway. They should form an imposing fence.’ They do.

March eighth. ‘At 10:30 a.m., there was a KFA trustee meeting. Krishnaji stayed in bed as it was all on finances. All were present except Alan Kishbaugh. Alan Hooker was considered as a trustee, but his proclivity for giving talks on Krishnaji’s teachings, which have been said to be tinged with interpretation, put it off. We continued after lunch. Professor Ravi Ravindra arrived from Halifax. Krishnaji had asked him to come back and wants to talk to him about being involved in the work in some way. Krishnaji hasn’t said what he has in mind, and throws it back to the Lilliefelts and me: What do we think Ravindra could do? We reply that it is his idea, etcetera. Krishnaji talked to Ravindra alone. I spoke to Lou Blau last night about going ahead with the geologic plan and told the geologist to do it. I told the real estate people about it, and the house is temporarily removed from the market until the work is completed. Amanda and Phil returned today from San Francisco.’

March ninth. ‘Krishnaji, Ravindra, and I had breakfast in the kitchen. Then, Krishnaji and he talked in the living room. I lit the fireplace in the living room for the first time since we have lived here. When Krishnaji came in and saw it, his face lit up with the look of surprise and delight that is my delight to see. Around 11 a.m., he called me and the Lilliefelts to join the conversation, and while we talked, he stood thumbing Mary L.’s biography in his loose, long towel robe’ [chuckles] ‘with another familiar look of an abstracted child—far off—his face rounded as that of a child.’ [M seems to explain:] His face would change in so many ways.

S: Yes.

M: ‘At 4 p.m., there was another K-teacher-parent discussion. Afterward, Krishnaji, Ravi, Theo, Max, and I went for a walk.’

March tenth. ‘Ravi breakfasted here. I do not think he is interested enough to change his life and join us. There was another K-teacher-parent-etcetera discussion at 11:30 a.m. Ravindra left after lunch for England, but agreed to Krishnaji’s suggestion that he might become a trustee of the Canadian Krishnamurti Foundation. This will come as a surprise to the Siddoos.’ [Chuckles.] ‘Ravi said he would “help,” finding scientists to discuss with Krishnaji, perhaps raise money. He will visit Brockwood on his present trip to England, and will speak to David Bohm, who he knows slightly and is associated with on some “threshold committee.” Krishnaji said, “We don’t want to lose you.” At 5 p.m. there was a walk with Krishnaji, Erna Theo, and I.’

The next day, ‘At 3 p.m., I went to a discussion of teachers and parents of older students about adding another year for them at Oak Grove. It was held at AV. Afterward, I walked with Krishnaji and the Lilliefelts.’

March twelfth, ‘Krishnaji dictated letters in the morning. A Dr. J. Martin, a professor at UC Irvine, came to lunch and talked afterward to Krishnaji. He wants to write an article about him.’

March thirteen. ‘Without breakfast, Krishnaji and I drove to Lailee’s office for a 10:30 a.m. fasting blood, etcetera, test.’ It was our annual checkup. ‘Krishnaji preferred to go by the beach road. Both of us find the valley way repellant and seemingly endless freeway and the smoggy vulgarity of southern California sprawl lines that road. The ocean is a far, far better thing. Krishnaji’s blood pressure must’ve been low, for Lailee had to do another vein to get enough blood. She’s just back from a quick trip to Paris to meet her family who are refugees from Iran. Her cousin, who was the prime minister when Khomeini returned, is in hiding. Krishnaji has a slight earache, and she gave a prescription for an antibiotic and some ear drops. Later, when I asked Krishnaji on the way home how his ear felt, he said, “Better. I think the antibiotic prescription scared it.”’ [M and S both chuckle.] We hadn’t filled the prescription yet. ‘After the blood giving, we had the prescribed breakfast at Lindberg’s, acceptably quiet and clean for Krishnaji. We spent the required two-hour interval shopping before giving the second post-meal blood samples. Then to Bullock’s in Westwood for jeans and socks for Krishnaji. I found his size nine-and-a-half in the boys’ department.’ He liked shopping at Bullock’s. ‘It was raining outside, and the store was not crowded. I bought some sheets for the guest room in Ojai and Brockwood, went to Winky for books, and returned to Lailee at 2 p.m. to give the second blood samples. Then, we drove to Malibu. The geologist was there. He said the enlarged cracks near the house suggested a need perhaps to dig immediately four or five wells in the lawn and pump out the water. I told him to proceed. It is as if everything has gone wrong there since we left it. We stopped briefly at the Dunnes’. Philippa arrived last night for a ten-day visit. It was lovely to see her. She will come up to Ojai Thursday. We returned to Ojai, Krishnaji driving from Zuma Beach to the usual place, looking pleased and at home at the wheel. He insisted on stopping at Dieter’s for a Valvoline fluid that prevents rattle when added to the fuel and, in spite of a long day and driving, he said he wasn’t tired. The outing may have diverted him. He, of course, hadn’t seen the Malibu changes Max made last summer and he thought it looked rather nice. In the evening, the geologist Ramiras called, and will meet both horizontal and vertical drillers there tomorrow and let me know the plan and costs.’

S: If Krishnaji started driving at Zuma Beach usually, where would he stop?

M: He would stop when we started getting near Oxnard traffic. In those days, we used to drive through Oxnard.

S: Right.

M: And he didn’t like that. I mean, he didn’t want to drive in towns and traffic. So, he would drive the section before that, then I’d take over. ‘The geologist called in the evening as he has both horizontal and vertical drillers meeting him at Malibu tomorrow.’

March fourteenth. ‘There was news on TV that while Carter was flying back to Washington from Israel and Egypt, the Israeli cabinet voted for the peace proposal, and it was just accepted by both Begin and Sadat. If the Knesset next accepts it, then the peace treaty will be signed. One hardly dares to believe this, at last, is at hand. Carter deserves immense respect for having gone all-out to solve this. I took Krishnaji to the Oak Grove School where he talked with the children, and while he was doing that, I fetched Mar de Manziarly to the house. She is staying with her sister for a month. The geologist rang with a numbing drilling bid for the horizontal drainage. Five 200-feet-long draining pipes to be put into the hills and under the house for $23,000.’ Everything went wrong. ‘He said he would try to get another bid by late afternoon. Krishnaji, Mar, Erna, Theo, etcetera lunched at Arya Vihara. Then, Erna and Theo took me to a benefit movie in Ojai of Ingmar Bergman’s Autumn Sonata with Ingrid Bergman and Liv Ullmann. Krishnaji was asleep when I got back. I had telephone calls about different bids by the drillers. Somebody in San Francisco will do it for around $7,000. I agreed to it. They come down tomorrow and start work Friday.’

March fifteenth. ‘It rained on and off. Philippa was to arrive early but was delayed by an overturned truck on the coast road. I took Krishnaji to the school Pavilion, where he talked again with the children, and it was photographed by Michael Mendizza for use in the film. I came back and found Philippa had arrived. We sat by the fire and talked till Krishnaji returned, and we all lunched at Arya Vihara. An editor of a Santa Barbara magazine, Jerry Dunn, was at lunch and afterward interviewed Krishnaji about schools, etcetera for his publication. We hope to make Oak Grove better known and possibly get more local students. A photo for the magazine was taken. Meanwhile, Philippa and I sat in the kitchen, had coffee, and talked till she left at 3:30 p.m. I wish I could be with her and David more. Krishnaji’s teaching is what they need and could become alive to them. Elfriede telephoned that the geologist says rain is coming to Malibu and the lawn must be covered with plastic. She wanted my permission to get it from the Malibu Lumber Company. Luckily, Lori was there, so she and he did it just before the rain began. Krishnaji went to bed and read. I did letters and played records. Sunanda’s notes of the January eighteenth conversation between Krishnaji and Dick Clarke arrived.’

March sixteenth. ‘The drilling for the drain pipes starts in Malibu. At noon, Dr. Rahula, and Professor and Mrs. Jacques Maquet, head of anthropology at UCLA, came and lunched with us at Arya Vihara. Then, Krishnaji talked alone with Rahula; and then, Krishnaji, Rahula, and Maquet had a discussion, which Ted taped. Erna, Theo, Fritz, Mark, and I sat in on it. Rain, so no walk.’

The next day, ‘It was a beautiful, clear day. I drove to Malibu, saw the geologist and the drilling, then went to lunch for Philippa at the Dunnes’. I saw Ray Eames’—wife of Charlie Eames, you know, the designer of the chair in the other room—‘Lailee, the Dreyfuses, Joe Cohen, Evelyn Keyes, and Winky. Drove back to Ojai by 5 p.m., and walked with Krishnaji and the Lilliefelts. Krishnaji had talked for an hour with David Moody.’

March eighteenth, ‘Rain on and off. Worked all day on income tax. Krishnaji and I went for a walk. The drilling continues in Malibu.’

There’s really nothing for the next day.

March twentieth. ‘Krishnaji and I left at 11:30 a.m. and drove to Malibu. Elfriede served us lunch in the kitchen. Philippa came over to say goodbye as she returns to Connecticut tomorrow. I watched her walk away up the path, as she and her siblings had all their lives. The drilling in the hillside is in its fifth day. So far, only one pipe is giving water. At 2:30 p.m. we went to Lailee’s office, where we got the reports on our annual checkups. Krishnaji had a hearing test and is quite deaf in the high registers. His blood pressure was 130/80, cholesterol 190, uric acid 7’—was 10 last year, it says—‘blood sugar 90 fasting and one day after food. So, all is good. The boils he had in India were not diabetic. His blood count was fine. EKG fine. The only question is his stomachache, which occurs from time to time. When he showed Lailee where it hurts, she said it was the gall bladder place, and suggested an upper GI X-ray, but he pooh-poohed it and said the barium swallowing would make him sick.’ Well, it was, obviously, as we know from hindsight, gall bladder. ‘We were finished by 4 p.m., but Krishnaji wanted to go back to Bullock’s for more jeans,’ [chuckle] ‘which we did and also got him another track suit to wear while doing his morning exercises. We drove back to Ojai along the beach road, Krishnaji driving his usual stretch. Today has been a strenuous one, but he said he wasn’t a bit tired. I feel blessed by this.’

March twenty-first. ‘I feel my cold coming back. I drove early to Los Angeles about income tax. Then to have teeth cleaned. Went to Malibu in the afternoon, and arranged for a new drainpipe to be put down the hillside to receive water from the drilling. Got back to Ojai by 5:30 p.m.’

For the next day there is only, ‘Desk, etcetera. Walk in afternoon. Saral and David Bohm arrived from England, and are in the guest house.’

Then really nothing until the twenty-fourth. ‘At 11:30 a.m., there was the start of a discussion with Krishnaji: David and a group from San Francisco selected by Fritz from the class he gave at JFK University. On the walk with Krishnaji was Alan Kishbaugh, Erna, Theo, and me.’

The next day, ‘The second day of discussion. Krishnaji thinks the discussion group is unintelligent.’ [M and S chuckle.]

March twenty-sixth, ‘The third discussion with Krishnaji. Drilling has ended in Malibu. Lailee says Krishnaji tests negative for parasites.’ After India, you always have to be tested.

S: Yes, yes.

M: ‘She advised me to have tests as I feel so poorly. Went to Ojai Valley Hospital for this. Rain in the night.’

The next day. ‘One-and-a-half inches of rain in Malibu. Fourth discussion with Krishnaji. Desk work.’

March twenty-eighth. ‘Three-and-a-half inches fell here last night, total of two for the storm in Malibu. I heard from Amanda and Phil and the geologist with the plumber all at the house. There was the fifth group discussion with Krishnaji at 11:30 a.m. I slept in the afternoon, feeling weak and ill from the pills for parasites.’

The next day, ‘The rain stopped. There was the sixth group discussion in the morning. Krishnaji was very moving at the end. In the afternoon, there was a trustee meeting with Krishnaji present part of the time. At 4 p.m., Dr. Lailia Gramm, one in the morning discussion group, joined us to discuss putting together an educational conference in April of 1980. The pool man worked on the ornamental pond. Krishnaji watched an old Danny Kaye movie in the evening. I telephoned Brockwood and spoke to Doris—Dorothy is in Wales—to say that Krishnaji and I postponed our arrival there till May fifteenth.’

The next day was ‘the seventh and final meeting of the discussion group.’

March thirty-first, ‘Miranda arrived in Malibu. It was a quiet day here, and I took the last of the pills, but still feel sick from them.’

April first. ‘A beautiful, clear day, warm, clean, and shining. Krishnaji had planned to come with me to Malibu where Miranda arrived yesterday. He wished to wander around the place while I went across the canyon to the Dunnes’. We would have had a sandwich lunch, but last night he felt tired, as well he might after the past week of group discussions with a group that contributed little, so he stayed home and lunched at the Lilliefelt’s with them and the Bohms. He stayed there talking till 4 p.m. I drove sedately in the green Mercedes, going slowly as I am only emerging from ten days of sick-making anti-parasite medicine, and also hadn’t a full tank. A gas shortage closes most stations on Sunday, but I had a hunch I might find an open one in Oxnard, which I did and filled up. I went straight to the Dunnes’, and though I hadn’t seen Miranda in about two years, it seemed no time to either of us. We sat on the terrace and talked of her reporting life’—she was a reporter for the television news in those days—‘at present in Buffalo at the ABC station there, and about the story she has been investigating, the Love Canal chemical dumping…’

S: I remember.

M: You remember that?

S: Yes.

M:  ‘…which has disastrously affected people living there. It is an awful story. Miranda is only here in Malibu till Tuesday. She looks well but thin, works very hard, and is enthused about it. I sat with Amanda and Phil a bit. Then went over to look at the earth cracks. Fred was trying to siphon the last week’s rainwater out of the plastic sheeting on the gravel part. The cracks are deeper and wider. The earth has not stabilized yet, and it is one week since they finished the hydroger in the hillside. According to the geologist, we must wait another week to see their effect. I looked at the drainpipes finished yesterday to connect with the six new hydrogers and three old ones and carry any water away from them to the bottom of the canyon. Malibu was at its loveliest. The hillside was covered in wild daisies and nasturtiums blown from some re-scattered seeds years ago, the earth and air were shining. But for the earth cracks, it would’ve been all peace and beauty, the quiet beckoning to stay in a trance of light and the air of spring on this deceptively lovely edge of the continent. I left instead, marketed, and drove back to Ojai by 5:30 p.m. Krishnaji had discussed with the Lilliefelts and the Bohms the Fritz situation. It is not clear yet. I made soup and artichokes for our supper.’

S: The Fritz situation being that…

M: Fritz was not turning out well.

S: Yes, exactly, I’m just trying to be explicit for the record.

M: It had to end sooner or later.

S: Yes. In what way was it not going well?

M: Well, he was being a guru, and he was doing sort of psychological meetings with people. And he was the boss and knew it all. He was wrong for the job.

S: Yes.

M: April second. ‘A quiet day. Renée Weber had lunch with us. She’s staying at Arya Vihara. I walked with Krishnaji, Erna, and Theo. Watched the Bill Moyers program on TV.’

The next day, ‘I drove to Beverly Hills. Went to the dentist; had a fitting; a haircut; and did various errands. Came back to Ojai by 5:30 p.m., having had the car washed in Ventura on route. Miranda returns to Buffalo.’

April fourth. ‘It was a beautiful day. I discussed an automatic watering system for the plants around the house, also planting more orange trees. I fetched Mar de Manziarly to lunch. I walked with Krishnaji and Erna.’

The fifth. ‘Another clear, warm day. Desk work. Frances McCann came to lunch. Krishnaji went to look at the Grove with Theo and Mark. I stayed with the typewriter. Then, we both watered the plants.’

Alan Kishbaugh helping Krishnaji into the grey Mercedes in the Oak Grove after a talk. Copyright Reza Ganjavi.

Alan Kishbaugh helping Krishnaji into the grey Mercedes in the Oak Grove after a talk.
Copyright Reza Ganjavi.

There is really nothing the next day, then April seventh, ‘The morning was cloudy and cool, but there was no rain. So, at 11:30 a.m., for the first time in two years, Krishnaji was able to speak in his Oak Grove. The first talk was today, and it was very moving. He looked extraordinarily beautiful. As always, he asked me what he should wear, and I urged his heavy mustard-colored Huntsman corduroys, with a green Indian shirt and taupe cardigan—all exceedingly becoming.’ [S chuckles.] ‘Age vanishes; his face is unlined and shines. He began his talk differently, speaking of goodness, what it is not, why man doesn’t have it; how no system, belief, etcetera will bring it about; how only in understanding oneself can a different dimension come about and man can go beyond it. He spoke quietly, with that depth of voice that usually comes for the deepest meditation of his talks, but today it was there from the start. A large audience, in spite of the gas shortage, listened intently. I sat on the ground where I must’ve sat years ago when I first heard him speak there. His presence, his voice, the atmosphere of the Grove make me feel my life had begun there all those years ago. Is it thirty-five? Now, I live here with him, with all that is beyond describing. I cannot say how it came about. It happened. I did not imagine it, seek it. It happened, and I have been blessed beyond all other life. On the way back in the car, he said, “I was so filled with that, that I was trembling.” And coming back through the village, he said, “Drive slowly. I want to faint.” He bent slowly forward, but didn’t quite faint, and was alright when he reached the house. Alan Kishbaugh lunched with us here in the cottage. I had cooked early the first lunch since we returned from India. It was pleasant to be cooking again, and it is part of the intimacy of home. Later, we walked, Krishnaji, Erna, Theo, and Alan Kishbaugh.’

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April eighth. ‘It was a clear, beautiful day, and it was beautiful in the Oak Grove where Krishnaji gave his second talk. He stopped neatly after an hour, and we were the first car to leave. We came back on the winding, quieter road, and Krishnaji said, “The minute I stop talking, my head begins.” He looked close to fainting in the car but didn’t. I had made lunch earlier and Erna, Theo, and Alan Kishbaugh ate with us. Both of us were tired in the afternoon but we walked to the Lilliefelt’s and down Grand Avenue. Krishnaji was sick to his stomach; said he ate too much at lunch. Took some bicarbonate of soda at the Lilliefelt’s, vomited, and felt better. He had only some V8 juice for supper.’

April ninth, ‘I worked at the desk, etcetera. Elfriede came to clean. She goes on holiday to Germany on the twenty-first and won’t be back here till her return, June fifth, when she will clean the house and put it to bed until our return. We will be in England then. I marketed. A short walk with Krishnaji, Erna, Theo, and Alan. I watched part of the Academy Awards on television.’

The tenth, ‘It was windy and clear. Krishnaji held public discussion number one in the Oak Grove. We lunched at Arya Vihara, took naps in the afternoon, and walked with Erna and Theo.’

The next day, ‘I watered and cared for plants most of morning. Krishnaji did some too in the afternoon.’

April twelfth, ‘Krishnaji held the second public discussion in the Oak Grove. Later in the afternoon, we went through the administration building, then the Grove, vegetable garden, etcetera.’

The thirteenth. ‘It was a warm, beautiful day. I did desk work and marketing. In the afternoon, I went to a party at Joe and Carol’s in Meiners Oaks. All the Brockwood people who are here were there. I took Frances McCann home by 6 p.m. Krishnaji had watered all the plants.’

April fourteenth. ‘Another warm, beautiful day for Krishnaji’s third talk in the Oak Grove. There was a large crowd. I sat up on the hill and could hear perfectly as if I was only a yard away from him. The beauty of the trees, the fresh grass, the air alive with ripening summer, and something blessed in that grove seemed the surrounding of his voice and words. We drove back slowly as usual. He lay down for a while while I finished cooking our lunch. Alan Kishbaugh, for the first time, has brought a friend to the talks, and they are both staying at Erna and Theo’s, so he brought her here for lunch: Stella Resnick, a gestalt psychologist. Krishnaji talked a little to her about what she does. At 4 p.m., Alfonso Colon, his nephew Jose, and brother-in-law Armando Riesco, and Hugo Baldi from Argentina came to see Krishnaji. Afterward, we went for a short walk, helped ourselves to a few of the Lilliefelt’s tangelos, but only ones that had fallen on the ground,’ [chuckles] ‘and came back to supper. Ginny and Bill Travers’ film about the lion that Krishnaji and I had seen at their place at Sussex was on television.’ Do remember that?

S: Yes, yes.

M: April fifteenth. ‘It’s Easter Sunday. I telephoned my stepfather, who is now at the Vineyard, and then my cousin Lorna. His voice sounded stronger. He is pleased to be home.’ Anyway, it goes on about my stepfather’s health, but I won’t go into that. ‘At 11:30 a.m., Krishnaji gave his fourth talk in the Oak Grove on another perfect day. Lakshmi Shankar and entourage were to arrive for the talk; Evelyne’s having arranged for her to fly back from an engagement in Chicago to sing here at the school for Krishnaji and a benefit concert for the school. After the talk, Krishnaji seemed close to fainting in the car, swaying, but didn’t actually faint. He lay down while I completed cooking. Erna, Alan K., and Stella Resnick lunched with us, but Theo went off to cope with Lakshmi Shankar, who had arrived somehow at Rajagopal’s’ [chuckles] ‘by mistake. She came with her daughter and son-in-law, and an older man to play tabla and his wife, to greet Krishnaji briefly. They touched his feet, and we all sat for a short while before Mark took them to Evelyne’s cottage to change and freshen up. I had barely time to load the dishwasher before Krishnaji and I drove to the Pavilion, and at 4 p.m., Lakshmi sang most beautifully for Krishnaji and the audience, who paid $20 for tickets inside, and $10 on the porch, as donations to the school. Refreshments were served under the trees, and Krishnaji stayed until Lakshmi Shankar left. She seems a nice woman. She had pickedslokas and bhajansthat she knew Krishnaji would like. To my surprise, she and her daughter kissed me goodbye, most un-Indian, but friendly. Krishnaji watered the patio plants on our return while I fixed supper.’

S: Okay, we’re going to have to stop it there because we’re not going to have enough tape for the sixteenth.

M: Okay. Alright.

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[1] These letters were dated the day they were meant to be sent to the schools, not the date they were written. Back to text.