Issue #62

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Issue 62—February 19, 1980 to April 20, 1980


A positive development that appears in this issue is that Mary finally sells her Malibu house. There is something typical about Mary in this: She has no loss of affection for that house she had built and lived in for so long, but she sees it as the past, and actively embraces her present.

The Oak Grove School and the Adult Center at Arya Vihara in Ojai are not going well, and Krishnaji is drawn into trying to fix them. Interestingly, we see an increase in Mary’s role that will continue until the end of Krishnaji’s life: Krishnaji asks Mary to be the initial intermediary to talk to people, sometimes before Krishnaji does and sometimes instead of his doing so.

Most worrying for Mary and others is that Krishnaji tells them that he is being “wasted” in Ojai, and that some force or collections of forces that determine his life may prevent him from coming to Ojai if a better use of his time is not found.

The Memoirs of Mary Zimbalist: Issue #62

Mary: We begin on February nineteenth. ‘I telephoned Bud on his birthday; he and Lisa go to Palm Beach on museum matters, then to Panama for some sun, returning March second. A new storm brought torrents of rain, so heavy that we had to wait at Arya Vihara after lunch for it to abate before walking home. Krishnaji spoke at lunch to the Lees, the Wilhelms, the Lilliefelts, Michael, etcetera on distrust among the teachers, how to change it, what is thinking together (not from personal bias and not about something). The escrow on the Malibu house, which was to commence today, didn’t as the bank misplaced some papers. Also, the real estate broker is stuck in Topanga by floods and mudslides.’ [Both laugh.] ‘All parts of L.A. are flooded. Houses are destroyed by mudslides. Even if the escrow starts, when the process is completed, the Malibu place has to be in the condition in which it was at the start, or the buyer can refuse to buy. So there is no telling what will happen because of the rains. I talked to Betsy; her escrow starts tomorrow.’

February twentieth. ‘It was clear in the morning and then the rain returned and continued all day. We lunched at Arya Vihara. The real estate man telephoned in the morning to say the escrow on the Malibu land is starting today. At 4:30 p.m., I took Krishnaji to the barber in Meiners Oaks, where he had his hair cut. This morning he had not gotten up by 6:30, as usual, so I went into his room. He had the covers up to his chin, lying, as he does so neatly, in a straight line, but he was not asleep. He spoke but was vague, disinclined to get up, and when he did, he said he was “elsewhere” and “not quite here.” Beyond finding out that he was not sick, I asked nothing but felt his “absence,” which seemed to last until he later came into the kitchen where his breakfast tray was ready. He did no exercise.’

The twenty-first. ‘The rain has gone at last. Krishnaji was up at the usual time, and did his exercises. The real estate man rang to say the escrow papers are in Louis Blau’s office. Blau said the escrow person at the bank is revising them, and he will try to bring them for my signature this weekend as he is coming to Ojai with Evelyne. Krishnaji dictated a description, which Mary L. had requested, of the change in Krishnaji’s meditation which began in Rishi Valley in November and continues here. He said it is completely different and new, a movement that reached the source of all energy, a sense of the absolute; the whole universe is in it. There is the perception that there is nothing beyond this. “This is ultimate, the beginning and the ending, the absolute. There is only a sense of incredible vastness and immense beauty.”’

S: We have that description. We came across that.

M: You did?

S: Yes. We came across that, and it was one of the things that we turned over to the archives.

M: We did?

S: Yes.

M: You see, that quote I just gave you alone makes this, all these notes that I scribbled all these years ago, valuable.

S: Absolutely. I completely agree.

M: Well, it says, ‘“…vastness and immense beauty.” When asked how one knows it is the source of all energy, he said, “One can only reply, with complete humility, that it is so.”’ I think that’s in the account.

‘Letters had just come from Mary Links and Mary Cadogan, both disturbed by a letter from an R. Toddywalla in Bombay.’ [Laughs.] Now, there’s a name! This is a Theosophist who kept writing to Krishnaji, urging him to say that he was really a Theosophist. [S chuckles.] ‘So, a letter from R. Toddywalla in Bombay in which he keeps referring to Krishnaji having told him that he was joining the Theosophical Society. Krishnaji dictated a letter in reply that this is not so. In the letter, he repeated that if Mrs. Arundale became president of the Theosophical Society,  “It would be a disaster.” He asked me to show his reply to Erna, who also was disturbed by Toddywalla’s assertion, and she also felt that Krishnaji should not do politics for Radha. So, after lunch, he drafted another, better reply. In the course of doing this, with Erna and Theo present, he had me read what he had dictated in the morning on meditation. He said that during the war years here in Ojai, he had no meditation. “Only when away from those two.”’ And then I have in parentheses: ‘Rosalind and Rajagopal.’

S: So, meditation didn’t occur when he was near them?

M: No.

S: Hm.

M: ‘And today he said, “The body feels very young. Meditation has done something to the brain. I am not tired. On the contrary. Something has happened to the body, something I cannot put my finger on has happened to the whole mind. It is not what it was. What it was, was alright, but it is something entirely different. You have no idea how I worked in India at Rishi valley—the teachers and school, but I wasn’t tired. I was like a flame.”’

February twenty-second. ‘No rain. Krishnaji dictated a few letters. Theo met Asit at the  Santa Barbara airport. He has finished his current business in San Francisco and is here for the weekend before flying to Singapore on Monday. We all had a late lunch at Arya Vihara. Krishnaji is very interested in Asit’s business in San Francisco, an unusual interest for him. He wanted to put his small savings from the Miss Dodge money into Asit’s venture but apparently this will not be possible.’ Krishnaji’s small savings; he got £500 a year from Ms. Dodge.

S: Yes, I remember.

M: And he wanted to invest it in Asit’s ventures. Thank god, it couldn’t be done. [S laughs.] ‘Krishnaji rested while Asit came with me to the village marketing. Then, Krishnaji, Asit, Erna, and Theo went for a walk while I cooked supper. We ate in the kitchen and watched Washington Week in Review.Washington Week in Review, for those who don’t know, has been going on in my life for years, every Friday night, and Krishnaji liked it very much.

S:  So, he liked that too? Oh, good.

M: Yes, we used to watch it. The main television was in his room. I moved it to my room afterwards, but it used to be in his room. He would always have supper in bed, as you know, and I would sit in the big red chair.

S: Right.

M: And we would have supper on trays that way. And the big television was next to the big red chair, so he would look at it. There was a small television in the kitchen. Anyway, ‘we watched Washington Week in Review and then the Olympics. Narasimhan telephoned to inquire how Krishnaji is.’

The twenty-third. ‘At 11 a.m., there was the annual KFA trustee meeting. Krishnaji, Erna, Theo, Alan Hooker, Evelyne Blau, and Asit came as a guest trustee from KFI. Lou Blau joined us for lunch at Arya Vihara and attended the afternoon session. We discussed Rajagopal’s violations of the settlement agreement. Erna raised the question of inequity to me in my remaining payment, due in 1981, on the purchase of the McAndrew Road property. I did not attend this discussion.’ In order to make it all legal, there was a…

Krishnaji in the Oak Grove. Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

Krishnaji in the Oak Grove. Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

S: Yes, you’ve explained all this before.

M: I had to buy this place.

S: You bought this place and then you donated it.

M: And then I donated it to the Foundation.

S: Right, with the right to live here for your lifetime.

M: Yes. ‘I did not attend this discussion. On my return, all agreed that Lou should review the situation, then we adjourned. Krishnaji, Asit, Erna, Theo, and I walked down McAndrew Road and back. Asit leaves Monday for Singapore.’

February twenty-fourth. ‘Max, Katie Marx, and Thomas dug up the pool on the front patio; it will be planted instead.’ It was useless as a pool; it had mosquitoes in it. ‘Margaret Dodd came to see Asit and discuss a book he wants to do of photos.’ She had something to do with publication. ‘She lunched with us at Arya Vihara. Krishnaji was a bit tired from no nap due to the KFA meeting yesterday. The Blaus have tried to see Rajagopal as Lou has never met him and thought he could prevail in getting a donation from him,’ [chuckle in voice] ‘but Rajagopal said he didn’t feel well. Lou reviewed the settlement agreement and thinks we should attempt to photocopy archive documents. He brought up the Berwick TV interview of Krishnaji, which Evelyne arranged and I opposed. We disagreed. I put on the Berwick program for Krishnaji to see; it was an interview of Norman Mailer, and Krishnaji didn’t want to watch after about ten minutes. I watched from another set. We went for a short walk to the dip. I sat up till late looking at Asit’s pictures of Krishnaji.’ I’ve forgotten what all that was about.

The twenty-fifth. ‘Krishnaji and I said goodbye to Asit at 5:30 a.m., and Theo drove him to Ventura where he took the bus to Los Angeles and a flight to Singapore. Evelyne telephoned about the Berwick interview; she didn’t cancel it when we said “no” in January, hoping, I suppose, that Krishnaji would decide otherwise on arrival. So, I put it to him and Erna and Theo at lunch, and offered no opinion of my own. Evelyne feels, rightly, that it is a chance to get footage of Krishnaji at no expense, but in the end Krishnaji decided it would be too tiring, three hours to get to NBC in Burbank and back. And they want to tape it at night.’

S: Oh…

M: He interviewed people on—I’ve forgotten what on. I didn’t think he was suitable. [S laughs.] ‘We walked with Erna and Theo in the afternoon and looked at baby goats.’ [Chuckles.]

S: [laughs] Not something you do every morning.

M: February twenty-sixth. ‘Krishnaji talked to Mark Lee and Erna, Theo, and me. Lunched at Arya Vihara. It was a warm day.’

The twenty-seventh. ‘There was a telephone call from a young woman with leukemia named Angela Arzunian, asking to see Krishnaji. He agreed, and she came in the afternoon. He saw her for about forty minutes, and said she did most of the talking. He listened, and held her hand. She had read all the books, knew what he had said about death, and is not afraid. She has only a short time to live. In the evening, we saw a television documentary on young people in deep trouble with the law. Krishnaji watched. “What is wrong in this country!”…“I could weep for these young people.”’

The next day. ‘Krishnaji slept poorly, woke in the night thinking, “I am being wasted. What am I doing here for four months? Just talking to those teachers?” At lunch, he brought it up again. We were alone and having our first meal at the new table on the patio. “What am I to do? I am not being used. The committee might say, ‘You’re not doing anything. Leave!’” And later on the walk with Erna and Theo, he raised it. “What am I doing just talking to these teachers who understand nothing?” We frantically asked him what he should be doing. “Talking,” he said.’

S: [chuckled] But not to those teachers, obviously.

M: No. ‘“Since that thing happened in Rishi Valley, there is much more, much more to be got out.” In all the past, no one has helped him to reveal his teaching, but now it seems he needs the affect of someone being able to question, to spur him to go more deeply. The responsibility seems to be on us to provide—so this agonizing warning.’

February twenty-ninth, leap year day. ‘Krishnaji slept well, nine hours. At 10:30 a.m., Krishnaji talked in the living room with Mark, Fritz, Erna, Theo, and me about the school. The teachers have a lack of trust, are “suffering,” according to Fritz who, though he says he doesn’t agree with them, is rather their spokesperson. They feel they are not consulted enough. Toward the end of the discussion, Krishnaji said he would meet with us and two or three teachers on Wednesday to work out “the rules of the game” in the school. Then, have meetings on Thursday and Friday with all of them to go into it. Then, enough on schools; he said some of what he had said yesterday. “What am I to do here for four months?” The others left while I got our lunch and stood talking about what could be done to find people able to discuss with him. Krishnaji had me ask Erna and Theo back to lunch with us, as we had just enough; and the four of us had lunch on the terrace. Krishnaji took a nap for two hours, and then we went for a walk with Erna and Theo down to Reeves Road and back. Max has gone to Malibu to put the railroad ties back, to fix the roof leaks, etcetera.’

The first of March. ‘After breakfast, Krishnaji had a stomach cramp and felt ill. When we went to lunch at Arya Vihara, he ate very little and then went back to bed. I had a long talk with Erna and Theo, Fritz, and Margrete about the school and possibly a few teachers to work closely with Mark to change the division between Mark and the staff. Krishnaji remained in bed and had a light supper. I made him a vegetable broth, which he had with dry toast and an apple. He thinks yogurt made him sick but felt better in the evening. Max, Katie Marx, a bulldozer man, Lorry, Elfriede, and Fred all worked to improve the railroad ties around the pine tree in Malibu. If the weather holds, they will continue tomorrow.’

March second. ‘Krishnaji was weak in the morning but ate a normal breakfast. In mid-morning, he sent for Mark, and talked to him with me present, about the school. The rain began again in mid-morning and ended the work that Max was doing in Malibu. Krishnaji and I lunched at Arya Vihara. There were some teachers there. Elfriede rang me at 5 p.m. and said torrential rains in Malibu washed out the work that Max had done. Krishnaji and I tried to walk but had to turn back as we got so wet. I spoke to David Bohm in London about discussions he wants to have with Krishnaji when he is here. He and Saral arrive on the twenty-seventh.’

The next day. ‘Rain turned to showers. Krishnaji was much better. We walked in the afternoon. And’ [chuckles] ‘he asked me why haven’t I “this thing.”’

S: This thing being this religious thing?

M: Yes. ‘“What’s the point if someone so close to me doesn’t have it?” He then asked me if I thought like a woman.’ [S chuckles.] ‘It developed, that he meant did I think beyond the reactions and the nature of a woman. “Is that you? Is it that you do not see instantly the whole of a problem? I want to change you.” That’s what we were talking about yesterday, seeing the whole.’

Krishnaji in the Oak Grove. Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

Krishnaji in the Oak Grove. Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

S: Ah, yes.

M: That’s because I’m a woman?

S: I don’t think so.

M: I think it’s more widespread than that. [Chuckles.]

S: [laughs] Yes.

M: The fourth. ‘At 11:00 a.m. Krishnaji had Erna, Theo, and Alan Hooker as trustees come and talk about meetings with teachers beginning tomorrow. We discussed the functions and responsibilities of trustees, of the school director, etcetera. We lunched at Arya Vihara and later walked down Reeves Road.’

March fifth. ‘There was a meeting after breakfast at 9:30 a.m. of Krishnaji, Mark Lee, the Lilliefelts, Alan Hooker, and me. It was another rainy day. We telephoned Mary Links and Krishnaji reassured her that he is not joining the Theosophical Society and has so answered the Toddywalla letter. She and Joe sounded like they were in the room; it was lovely to talk to them. We lunched at Arya Vihara, and at 4 p.m., Krishnaji held a meeting here with trustees and the Oak Grove School staff. It went on till 6:30 p.m. The real estate man telephoned that Mrs. McNichols has signed the escrow for the house.’ She was an indomitable buyer. Thank god.

S: I guess so.

M: The sixth. ‘I spoke to Amanda on her birthday, then went to Ventura to fetch a new hearing device, marketed and got back as Krishnaji, Erna, Theo, etcetera, and the David Moodys, too, were finishing lunch. At 4 p.m. Krishnaji held a second discussion with Oak Grove teachers and a resolution of their differences seems to be happening. Alain Naudé arrived, having driven down from San Francisco. He is spending the weekend in the guest house. We had supper on trays in Krishnaji’s room. The escrow on Malibu had begun!’

March seventh. ‘Max reported on how he can re-fix the railroad ties around the pine tree in Malibu. We breakfasted in the kitchen. The weather was suddenly beautiful. Krishnaji and Alain talked in the living room while I tended house plants, and the gramophone rang with Pavarotti singing  Neapolitan songs.’ [S chuckles.] Krishnaji liked that.

S: Yes. Yes.

M: ‘Krishnaji later said he had hardly heard what Alain was saying because the atmosphere in the room was so strong. “I must sit in there each morning.” We all lunched at Arya Vihara. Alain met the Wilhelms, Michael, and David Moody. At 4 p.m., there was the third teacher meeting, which lasted till 6:30 p.m. Evelyne was there, and Lou telephoned during it to tell me that all is well with the escrow. The building and termite report was excellent, and he is sending it to me for signature. The sale of the house is a triumph.’ [Both chuckle.] So it was.

S: Sliding down the hill.

M: Yes. ‘Krishnaji was tired after the meeting. He, Alain, and I had supper on trays in front of Krishnaji’s television.’

The eighth. ‘Alain had breakfast with the Lilliefelts, returned, and had a private talk for about an hour with Krishnaji. We all lunched at Arya Vihara. Various teachers were there. After a rest, Krishnaji, Alain, Erna, Theo, and I walked down McAndrew joined by a waiting Japanese man who wanted to see Krishnaji, and invited himself to come along. This sort of thing makes me cranky.’ [S chuckles.] ‘Toward the end of the walk, Alain said to me one of his reasons for coming here is because Mary L. had told him that both Krishnaji and I felt some unfinished something from years ago. He said he had talked to Krishnaji in the morning and now wanted to clear it up with me. I said for myself, I felt then and still felt, that he had acted wrongly when he left, but he had a right to act as he chose. It was over and gone and didn’t color my friendship for him today. He defended his actions, saying he was accused unjustly, etcetera, and he said both sides acted wrongly. His words were wanting things to be right, but there was, I felt, an insistence in him that he had been right. By this time, we were back at the gate. The others were catching up, so I spoke in as friendly a way as I could, warmly of past times, when we were all together. I fixed our supper and all three ate in front of Krishnaji’s television.’

The ninth. ‘It was a beautiful day. Krishnaji, Alain, and I had breakfast in the kitchen. Alain left at 10:30 a.m. for San Francisco, after Krishnaji had again invited him to stay at Brockwood if and when he comes to London. “Naudé is tiring,” said Krishnaji after he left, but he feels perhaps Naudé would like to come back to some degree. It was vague, and we’ll see. I had a long pleasant chat with Amanda on the telephone and later with Bud in New York. He and Lisa were on Contadora Island in Panama when they were invited by the wife of the shah of Iran to call and spent two hours with her alone.’ They were sort of acquaintances of hers. They’d been invited when the shah was still shah, and they had invited a lot of people, distinguished people, to come to Tehran.

S: There was a big event, like the 2,000th anniversary of the Persian Empire, or something like that.

M: Yes, it was something like that, and they were invited and went. So, anyway, they saw the wife in Panama. ‘Lisa brought museum articles she thought would be of interest to the empress, and the empress poured out her thoughts. At one point, Bud mentioned the husband of his niece, who is a hostage in Tehran, and spoke of Louisa’s going to Paris as the guest of the French government to speak on television. “Is she the woman?” said the empress. She had heard of what Louisa had said, and said it had “given me the strength to carry on.” Bud said there’s little protection for her. The Panamanian government was so welcoming at first, but is now dickering with the Iranians. She cannot see her children, as she fears for their safety. After lunch at Arya Vihara, we saw a videotape of a Nova program on arteries, blood cells, etcetera, photographed inside the body. After a rest, we walked with Erna and Theo, and ran into the Blaus, who are house-hunting for their daughter Eloise, so they came in briefly.’

The next day. ‘There was a meeting of Erna and Theo, Alan Hooker, Mark, me, and Carol Andre on the future of the school vegetable garden. It is too expensive to continue. Carol is to leave. After lunch and a rest, Krishnaji, Erna, Theo, and I walked in the Topa Topa Ranch grove.’ We had permission from the Topa Topa owners.

S: Oh, how nice.

M: March eleventh. ‘In the afternoon, I went to an Oak Grove School teacher and parent meeting. Carol Andre is no longer on the staff; will stay on until the garden is changed, and turned over to the staff and many volunteers who will look after permanent plants. It was a calm meeting. I came back and walked with Krishnaji. Max went to Malibu to mend the railroad ties trying to hold the earth.’

The twelfth. ‘It was a lovely, clear day. At 11 a.m., we went with Erna and Theo to Santa Barbara, going through the Casitas Pass’—that’s the inland way. ‘The lake was full, the hills were so very green, and the ceanothus was in bloom. We went at first to buy a training suit for Krishnaji, then to Danica House for teak oil, to a French bakery, and then lunched in a small French restaurant called Mousse Odile. We had to wait but the food was good. Afterward we went to Kaiser Health Food there, then drove to the botanical gardens where we walked about. Then we drove to Montecito, bought cheese and vegetables, and came home after casing the barber at the Biltmore Hotel for Krishnaji and a hairdresser for me. The ocean was welcome to both of us as we drove back. It smelled of the sea, and soft, moist air. We were back at 6 p.m. Krishnaji was not too tired. We had supper with the fresh vegetables and goat cheese we had bought. Elfriede telephoned to thank me for a check, and say that Max had done part of the work on the railroad ties around the pine tree and will continue tomorrow. Mr. Chapman had a stroke and died.’ Mr. Chapman was a very funny old man who lived up in the hills, and used to do gardening for the Dunnes and for me.

March thirteenth. ‘Max is working in Malibu. Sidney Field came to lunch at Arya Vihara with Krishnaji, Erna, Theo, Michael, and me. He told of robberies and of the dangers of life in his section of Hollywood. Also, he reminisced and said he hadn’t ever spoken to Rajagopal since a telephone conversation in which Rajagopal was complaining of his health and having a hernia. Sidney had told him, “Well, that’s what comes with lifting other people’s property.”’ [Both M and S laugh heartily.] Good for Sidney. ‘In the afternoon, Krishnaji, Erna, Theo, and I walked through the avocado and orange trees of the Topa Topa Ranch, a very pleasant walk. We discussed the renewed crisis in school. Laura Martin is resigning, and she says the trouble between Mark and the staff still exists. We decided to talk to Mark tomorrow morning and then see the teachers without him in the afternoon.’

S: Is Sidney Field still alive?[1]

M: No. At least I don’t think so. I would’ve been hearing from him if he was. No. He must’ve died.[2]

S: To me, Sidney Field’s biography of Krishnaji is one of the best ones; it is terribly touching and he conveys a sense of Krishnaji.

M: Yes, it does. That’s a very, very good one. He was a very good friend to Krishnaji.

S: I never met him. I’d love to have met him.

M: He was very nice. [Laughs.] I’d forgotten about all that—Rajagopal’s hernia from lifting other people’s property. [Laughs more.] Anyway.

March fourteenth. ‘At 8 a.m., Krishnaji, Mark, Erna, Theo, Hooker, and I met. Krishnaji told Mark we would see the teachers in the afternoon without his being there. That meeting was held at 4 p.m. All the staff came. Krishnaji worked very hard at trying to get to the root of the problem. It is a lack of common ground, i.e., bringing about a different human being in the school, the children. All else is peripheral. He got most of them to see this though Laura and her husband, and Margrete Heising, Fritz’s wife, remain uncommitted. Later, Krishnaji chided me for not going deeper, but only discussing on the periphery. “You should’ve solved it, you and the Lilliefelts,” he said.’ [S chuckles.]

Krishnaji in the Oak Grove. Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

Krishnaji in the Oak Grove. Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

March fifteenth. ‘At 4 p.m., Krishnaji held a two-and-a-quarter-hour meeting with parents, teachers, and few others. I invited Kathleen Quinn. It was good, but it went on too long. Max had been invited but finished work in Malibu; he sent me photos of his work via Katie Marx.’

March sixteenth. ‘At 10 a.m., Krishnaji, Mark, and David Moody, who will join the school in September, Erna, Theo, Alan Hooker, and I met and discussed Friday’s teacher meeting with Mark. Mark was remarkably open and un-defensive in all this. It is good that Moody was there seeing all sides. At 4 p.m., the second parent-teachers-etcetera discussion was held for one hour and twenty minutes. Max came on the walk afterward with Krishnaji, Erna, Theo, and me.’

The seventeenth. ‘I woke up at 3 a.m., and did proofreading on the final version of From Darkness to Light just received from Harper & Row. I had surprising energy all day. In the afternoon, Krishnaji and I washed the green car and then went for a walk with Erna and Theo through the Topa Topa grove.’

The next day, ‘There was sudden thunder and rain in the morning. Elfriede reports a pipe near Filomena’s room burst yesterday, but she got the plumber to fix it.’

S: Oh, poor Malibu.

M: ‘After lunch, Krishnaji and I drove to the Biltmore Hotel in Montecito, where Krishnaji had a good haircut. The day had cleared and the world was windy and shining. On the way home, we stopped for more goat cheese from Provence. Krishnaji drove along the ocean, looking pleased and very young. He hoped for a train, and one came by, keeping us company as far as Ventura.’ [Light chuckling.] ‘He told me that years ago, when he used to drive by himself, when a train would be parallel with the road, he would drive fast. And the train engineer would shake his finger out the window at him, and he would stop racing.’ [S laughs, M laughs too.]

The nineteenth. ‘I worked at the desk most of the day. Krishnaji saw David Moody at 11 a.m., and Laura Martin and her husband at 4 p.m. while I marketed. There was the walk as usual.’

March twentieth. ‘I fixed our breakfast and then I left at 7 a.m. for Malibu. The coast road has just opened after landslides, and the rain has brought out more than ever before the yellow tufted daisies that Krishnaji and I like so much. I reached the house at 8:30 a.m., talked to Elfriede and later to Lorry. Elfriede is prepared to move out and into a trailer on her own land as soon as the escrow closes.’ She and her husband had a piece of land up in the hills.

S: Yes.

M: ‘I saw all that Max had done. The earth continues to sink like an elevator beyond the fault, but it was a lovely day. The roses were blooming. The sea air shone. The house was dear as it always has been and as beautiful, a familiar-as-ever part of my life. I shall very probably never go there again. I leave it with undiminished affection but no pain. Went over to see Amanda and Phil and learned that they too are thinking it may be time for them to sell and reshape their lives while they are still able to choose. They are thinking of San Francisco.’ They never did move. ‘It is indeed a day of turning. I went on into town to Dr. Olson about a skin thing that has to be removed, then had my hair cut. At 4 p.m., I met Tootie’—that’s Bud’s eldest daughter—‘at a car rental place in Santa Monica to put my credit card on line so she can rent a car. She is no longer with Lance whatever-his-name-was. I came back along the ocean and drove in as Krishnaji was returning from his walk with the Lilliefelts. “I knew you were coming,” he said.’ [Both chuckle.] He had a great way of, of something…‘Krishnaji had seen Fritz at 4 p.m.’

The twenty-first. ‘Krishnaji came with me to Green Thumb Nursery to choose a ficus to go in the corner of the new flower bed where the pool was.’ You’re looking at it now. ‘We bought little plants too and got back just in time for lunch. In the afternoon, Thomas planted everything in the little garden using two of the Malibu sea rocks. It was finished and looking charming by the time we came back from our walk. Krishnaji was pleased.’

March twenty-second. ‘Krishnaji met with Erna, Theo, Alan Hooker, Mark, David Moody, and me about Moody’s draft of a statement on a definition of “common ground” for the school, and we spent an hour amending it. At 4 p.m., Krishnaji held a discussion with parents, teachers, etcetera, which Krishnaji thought went well. Louis Blau sent the final papers with Evelyne for me to sign. He says Mrs. McNichols wishes to close the escrow Wednesday. The shah of Iran leaves Panama for Egypt. Louisa Kennedy is interviewed about its effect on the hostages on CBS.’

The twenty-third. ‘Krishnaji held the fourth parent-teacher discussion at 4 p.m. I signed the grant-deed at the notary, and Evelyne took it to Lou. I spoke to Miranda in Malibu, also Lisa in New York.’

There isn’t anything the next day.

On the twenty-fifth, ‘Krishnaji says we ought to go to Sri Lanka in the autumn. He forgot to tell me. He said Dr. Parchure predicted I would object—Krishnaji taking on too much.’ Well, anyway, we went. [S laughs.] ‘The buyer of the house, Mrs. McNichols, telephoned to say, “It is such a beautiful house.” It will be hers tomorrow. I replied in kind. It rained. I went to the Department of Motor Vehicles in Ventura about missing license tags.’

March twenty-sixth. ‘I was up early and proofread the final version of From Darkness to Light, finishing my share. Erna and Theo are doing the rest. An appraiser came about the art and china in the house. Krishnaji talked alone with the Siddoos. Frances McCann was at lunch, having arrived from Brockwood last night, and is spending the week at Arya Vihara before moving to a motel. She was nervously talkative at lunch in her mother-y way, which Krishnaji finds trying. At 4 p.m., Krishnaji, the trustees, and Oak Grove staff met to go over the “common ground” statement. It lasted over two hours. Lou Blau telephoned to say escrow was closing and the title will pass on Malibu tomorrow morning when the sale will be recorded.’

The next day. ‘The Malibu house belongs to the new owner. Elfriede has a bad cold but is moving into a trailer on their land in Corral Canyon. Mrs. McNichols has moved into the house, even though it has no leach field. Lou telephoned to say the funds could be telegraphed where I would like them, which I said is to Wellington.’ They’re my brokers in New York. ‘It is, at last, all done. The dear and blessed house is gone. I can no longer care for it. It is the past and closed. I am immensely relieved. Krishnaji went with Theo to visit the school. I marketed and made our supper. In the late afternoon, Saral and Dave Bohm arrived from London for about three weeks. The Siddoos leave.’

March twenty-eighth. ‘Krishnaji’s “day off.” No exercise. Krishnaji says Theo told him that he and Erna eat sandwiches and salad at night. He thinks we should, too. The yam we had last night disagreed with him and it came up. But only it. “My stomach is very clever. It rejects only what it doesn’t like.” He dictated letters in the morning. He is interested in going over the archive photos collected by Mendizza in Adyar and in identifying people in them, which I write down. The Bohms were at lunch. The appalling state of the world was talked of at table, seemingly insoluble problems and the drift toward war or starvation. “The world is mad,” said Krishnaji to me as we walked back through the orange trees on this beautiful day. Later, he wanted to finish the photographs, and then we walked with Erna and Theo through Topa Topa. The valley is beginning to fill with the scent of orange blossoms. The mourning doves make their gentle sound, and we have been hearing great horned owls at night.’

S: How nice.

M: March twenty-ninth. ‘Krishnaji is increasingly disturbed over Fritz and Margrete. He feels the atmosphere in the school and Arya Vihara is not good. He talked to David Moody at Moody’s request after lunch. At 4 p.m., he held a fifth discussion with teachers-parents-etcetera, including the Bohms. Later, Krishnaji told me, “You must think like me, not like Mrs. Zimbalist.”’ [Both M and S laugh.] He called me Mrs. Zimbalist for the first seven years he was my houseguest.

S: Yes. I remember. It’s extraordinary. [Both laugh more.]

M: Oh, dear.

S: But then, he called you Maria in such a beautiful way.

M: Yes. Well, there were too many Marys.

S: I know there were. But it was also like when I heard him calling my name on a tape, his pronunciation of names was so singular and really very beautiful.

M: It was lovely. Yes, I liked being called Maria.

S: Yes.

M: Vanda resented it because she had a sister who died whose name was Maria, so that name was taken, so to speak.

S: Ah, ha, yes, right.

M: But, it didn’t change anything. ‘There were severe admonitions brought on by my not sharing his more severe misgivings about elements he feels are destructive to the work here. I had a long talk with Bud in New York about business things. Bud offered the Paris apartment for Krishnaji and me in June if we want to go there. Miranda telephoned; she has to return to San Francisco tonight, but will come down another weekend and come here then.’

The next day, ‘Krishnaji held sixth meeting with parents, teachers, etcetera.’

The thirty-first. ‘I spent most of the day working at my desk, and Krishnaji spent the day in bed. I made our lunch here.’

April first. ‘It was a quiet morning for Krishnaji, but a very busy one for me. Mr. Schwartz delivered the bed table for Krishnaji’s room. Amanda reported on meeting with Ruth Carter on what their place would sell for. At lunch at Arya Vihara were Erna and Theo, Fritz, Michael, and Robin Slanager who arrived yesterday and may help at the school. At 4 p.m., Krishnaji held a taped discussion with Dave Bohm. Present were: Erna, Theo, Hooker, Fritz, David Moody, and Robin. Krishnaji began by asking, “Did mankind go wrong? If so, when and where?” Eventually he described his own meditation, which is not deliberate. He wakes up meditating. In Rishi Valley it happened that he touched what he described as the source of energy. Toward the end, he spoke of a destruction (of all conscious thought, etcetera, as we know it) and that is a beginning. “Is it creation?” As he was speaking, I had the vivid sense of destruction and creation being one ultimate action in reality. We went for a short walk with Erna and Theo. Margrete has resigned from the school, is angry and disturbed. Krishnaji feels something must be done. He had earlier asked me to talk to Fritz. Krishnaji said I must “stay young,” and he is effecting this when he does my back and head.’ He put his hands on my back when it was sore. That’s going to help me be young. That’s what it did, maybe, I guess.

S: Yes, yes. It really worked. [both chuckle]

M: April second, ‘I fetched Mar de Manziarly from her sister’s road and brought her to lunch with Krishnaji at Arya Vihara. At 4 p.m., Krishnaji had a one-and-a-half-hour taped discussion again with David, a continuation from yesterday on: Did man take a wrong turn? And what lies beyond emptiness and silence? “There is something.” It was an extraordinary conversation, as if Krishnaji was seeing beyond human perception. It is too difficult to report here. He ended it with his funny story about the man who died and met Saint Peter, was accepted in heaven but given a chance to visit “down there,” which he did and was received by marvelous girls, etcetera; so he chose that, went down again, but was beaten up on his arrival. Why?, he asks, when that wasn’t his first experience. “Oh, you were a tourist then.”’ [S laughs.] ‘Krishnaji, Erna, Theo, and I went for a short walk.’

April third, ‘We left at 10:30 a.m. in the green Mercedes and drove the coast road, Krishnaji taking the wheel at the usual place by the poplar trees and giving it back to me at Zuma Beach. We had a picnic lunch in the car on a shady street in Beverly Hills. At 1:30, Krishnaji had an ear exam by Dr. Seymour Brockman and a hearing test. He has seventy percent loss in the high frequencies. The doctor suggested a hearing aid for special occasions, like hearing questions during talks or discussions. Krishnaji is disinclined.’ [S chuckles.] One reason I got a hearing aid for myself…

S: Was to encourage him?

M: …yes, to encourage him, but it had no effect. [S laughs.] ‘We stopped at Lindberg’s for vitamins, etcetera. Then, to Malibu to see the Dunnes. Krishnaji was anxious to get home, so we didn’t stay long. Krishnaji drove the usual stretch on the way back. “Some car.” His face lights up at the car, at flowers along the road, and for me this is a spreading of delight at seeing him at the wheel of his car, pleased, enjoying, young, and with a glow in his face. We arrived home at exactly 6:30 p.m. I realized that today, passing the Malibu house for the first time since the sale that it is part of a past, all of it.’

There’s really nothing the next day, but on the fifth, ‘at 4 p.m. there was a trustee-parent meeting at the Pavilion.’

S: Oh, not with Krishnaji?

M: No.

S: Interesting.

M: The sixth, Easter Sunday. ‘It was a beautiful day. Krishnaji watched TV all morning from the Pope in Rome to the Reverend Schuller, whom he watches with incredulous amazement that people are so taken in.’ Reverend Schuller was a fascination for Krishnaji because he was so awful; he was one of those television evangelist preachers.

S: Yes. I find him fascinating as well.

M: Well, then, you know. He built the Crystal Cathedral and it went on and on. Krishnaji would stare at this in fascinated horror.

S: Yes. [Both chuckle.]

M: ‘I worked at the desk. Joy Mills, now at Krotona, came to lunch at Arya Vihara and for coffee at the cottage afterward. Krishnaji is interested in the probability of Radha Burnier winning the election for the presidency of the Theosophical Society over her aunt Rukmini Arundale. Mills is confident she will. Joy Mills had withdrawn her own candidacy in Radha’s favor. People on Rukmini’s side were saying Krishnaji wants to take over the Theosophical Society. Later on the walk, Erna asked him if he does. “Just the land,” he said.’ [S laughs; M laughs, too.] He liked having land.

S: Yes, yes.

M: He was always, when we were looking for a place for the school, before we settled on the land we got, he would say, “More, buy more acres,” forty acres, fifty acres. [Both laughing.]

S: Quite right.

M: Again, there’s nothing of significance the next day, but on the eighth, ‘I worked at the desk in the morning. After lunch, at Krishnaji’s urging, I talked to Fritz about Margrete’s antagonisms, some to Krishnaji. At 4 p.m., Krishnaji held a taped discussion with Bohm and Fritz. Afterward, he and I watered the garden.’

The next day was ‘a warm day. I worked at the desk all morning. At 12:30 p.m., Evelyne and Michael Mendizza came and did some movie shots of Krishnaji watering plants, walking with David Bohm, and chatting with him at Arya Vihara. Cynthia Wood came to lunch. At 4 p.m., Krishnaji gave an interview for Ojai News to Lamar Hoover’—he was the longtime, very nice editor of the Ojai News, and then he moved away and we didn’t see him anymore. ‘We walked with Erna and Theo in the orange grove on the Topa Topa Ranch.’

April tenth. ‘Malibu is cut off by a slide, breaking the telephone lines. It was a warm day. I worked at the desk all morning. I spoke to Lorna at the Vineyard. Louisa has had a telephone call from Mike at the embassy in Tehran. On TV, militants threatened to kill hostages if [there was] any military action, including by Iraq, which they consider to be a U.S. puppet. There was much discussion about this at lunch. Krishnaji jokingly but vehemently said he would blockade the Gulf unless the hostages were freed or if they are harmed. He would seize the Iranian oil fields and warn Russia not to interfere.’ [S chuckles.] ‘“Then, I’d say ‘I’m a pacifist.’”’ [S laughs.] Laughing, he said this. ‘At 4 p.m., there was a discussion with Krishnaji and David Bohm, with Fritz and David Moody joining in. What will make man change? was the topic.’

April eleventh. ‘It was a hot, windy day. Krishnaji wants vines on his porch and came with me to Green Thumb Nursery in Ventura. It was dusty and strenuous but we found what we were after. We talked in the car about this first attempt to start an adult center in Ojai. Krishnaji feels acutely that it is wrong, is not developing, mustn’t go on. He is intense and disturbed about it. We got back in time for lunch. “Why are we both tired?” he asked. After lunch, he talked with Erna and Theo and me until 4:30 about the Fritz and Mark problems. David Bohm came in for part of the Fritz discussion. It seems that Fritz has thought of doing something else; teaching philosophy somewhere. Bohm will sound out Fritz on this. It would detach Fritz from our work and undo what has turned out wrongly. That left us with the Mark problem and the question of why some staff are leaving. Is it Mark’s fault? Krishnaji feels strongly that Asha is part of Mark’s apparent weakness and is an irritant in the school. Erna is depressed and concerned. We have to get at the reasons some staff are leaving. Is it something in Mark? Krishnaji said again, “I am wasted here.” And later to me, “Why am I doing all this?” I asked why he gets involved in all these schools everywhere. Is that his job? He said, “The Committee may say that’s enough.”’

S: The Committee being, again, the…

M: We don’t know what the Committee is, but we know it is unknown.

S: An unknown assemblage of whatever. [Chuckles.]

M: It has to do with his life and fate.

S: Yes.

Krishnaji in the Oak Grove. Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

Krishnaji in the Oak Grove. Copyright Mary Zimbalist.

M: April twelfth. ‘It was a hot day. I worked at the desk in the morning. After lunch, Krishnaji talked with Erna, Theo, Hooker, and me about Mark and the school difficulties. Erna had talked to Darcey and others’—Darcey was a teacher in the school—‘on why they were leaving the school. One fact is Asha’s meddling. This confirmed Krishnaji’s opinion, and that she has no business in the school, etcetera. He was very drastic, but it  ended up that I am to talk to Mark and tell him Asha must not be part of the school. At 4 p.m., Krishnaji held another discussion particularly with David Bohm, but Fritz and David Moody were in it partially. Krishnaji had chided me for not joining in, so I did, minimally. It began with Dave asking about “the ground” and what is the relationship of a person to that. Krishnaji led one through this subject brilliantly. The total destroyer, a sword cutting away the delusions of the mind. He looked tired at the end and has the beginnings of hay fever. He expended much energy people he feels are destructive to the work, and he was scathing.’

April thirteenth, ‘Krishnaji had streaming hay fever, so he was in bed most of the day but got up for lunch. In the afternoon, he gave an interview to Sasha, the Russian that Vanda brought to the airport in Rome in November 1978, and who later came here. Krishnaji also talked privately with Dr. Netzer, a parent in the school, an intelligent man, Krishnaji said. His hay fever was severe in the evening. Max and Alan Tansill brought an air cleaning machine, but Max was unable to start it.’ Alan Tansill was the brother or adopted brother or brother thing to Max. They shared childhood and life together. That was in the little book.

The fourteenth. ‘Krishnaji felt weak with hay fever. It begins to bring congestion to his chest. I had a conversation with Naudé in San Francisco, about the effect of “constitutional remedy,” phosphorus, which Krishnaji took on March twenty-third. But today, Krishnaji decided to take Dr. Scheef’s pink pills, which are the only thing that controls the hay fever.’

S: Ah, yes, “the magic pink pills,” yes.

M: He stayed in bed all day. I worked at the desk, marketed, then made his lunch here. He was better by evening. A white wisteria vine and pink dipladenia were planted by Krishnaji’s porch.’ I don’t remember those. We’ve got rose bushes out there now.

April fifteenth. ‘Krishnaji is better. As a result of Saturday’s conversation between Krishnaji, Erna, Theo, Hooker, etcetera, I saw Mark alone and told him we felt Asha must not interfere in school matters. He listened with remarkable openness. Krishnaji got up for lunch. In the afternoon he had another discussion with David Bohm. His voice was a little thick, but his energy had returned.’

The sixteenth. ‘I left at 7:30 a.m. and went via Malibu to Beverly Hills. It was a hot day. I did lots of errands, had my hair cut, then spent half an hour with the Dunnes on the way home. Krishnaji had talked to Mark in the morning. He also talked to Dave, who says that Fritz wants to leave. Krishnaji, Erna, and Theo were starting on a walk as I arrived at 6 p.m., so I joined them but felt tired.’

April seventeenth. ‘After breakfast, Krishnaji said that he wanted a serious talk with me. We sat in the living room. He said he’s wasting his time here with school problems and talking to teachers who don’t understand. He’s been here three months, and what? He has woken up with intimations three times that he is being wasted. Ojai, he feels, is a sacred place, and he likes this house, but it is a waste for him. He could write, but he should be having living discussions; someone to talk to who can help him to go deeper. Bohm helps, but he can talk to him at Brockwood. More is happening there. If he doesn’t do something, something else will take a hand, something will make it impossible for him to be here. He wants to prevent that. What to do? He said sometimes it is as if something very far were calling him. “Something beyond the stars.” He said I am the closest person to him, but that doesn’t make a difference. He had me call in Erna, Theo, and as Mark was with Erna in the office, Krishnaji had him come, too. He had me begin to report what he had said, and then he picked it up and said, “I have been sent.” He held another discussion with David Bohm from 4 p.m. to 5:40 p.m. It was an absorbing one. An air cleaner is installed on the furnace with air conditioning.’ That was in hopes of helping Krishnaji’s…

S: Yes, hay fever. Let’s just talk for a minute about this because this is something that is remarkable, what you’ve just read.

M: I know, and it was extremely disturbing.

S: Of course. It has to be extremely disturbing. He was intimating that if his time is not used, something may prevent him from coming back here.

M: That’s right.

S: So, something may prevent him from not using his time well by conspiring to keep him where it would be used well.

M: That’s right. His duty is to keep talking.

S: Yes, and not just any talking; it has to be…

M: No. Not with teachers and about school problems.

S: It has to be valuable talk.

M: It has to be about the teachings.

S: Yes. And what’s interesting also is that he felt that there was more going on at Brockwood than there was here. And I remember this period at Brockwood well, and it was full of conflict.

M: Yes! That was when there was practically open warfare.

S: Well, that took a little while, but it eventually became open warfare.

M: Yes, that’s when he said, “Unless you people settle these things between you, I will go into the West Wing and close the door.”

S: Exactly. Krishnaji threatened to leave, it was so terrible. But just before that, apparently, because that was about ’85. It was ’84 to ’85, so this is just before that period, but it’s interesting that Krishnaji felt that there was more going on there than here.

M: Yes. It may have just been that he was bothered by the lack here and, uh…

S: When I came here bringing Krishnaji from India on his last trip, we’ll come to this obviously, but at that time, he had asked me, and had Erna ask me, to go to the school and figure out what was wrong.

M: Did he?

S: Oh, yes, they both did. We’ll come to it. But I remember feeling that the place wasn’t alive, that in a way, maybe because everybody went home at 3 o’clock, or something like that, it was dead.

M: Well, this is just me speaking, not Krishnaji or anybody else; but I’ve always felt that I was part of Brockwood, and of course, I never go the school here. At Brockwood, we were living in a house together.

S: Yes, it was something living and constantly ongoing.

M: You’re all part of a whole.

S: Yes, yes.

M: Also, here it’s full of parents. We never had parent problems at Brockwood.

S: Thank god! I know, and parents are a big problem.

M: They are. And here they are a dominant problem, and they still are. I used to think, thank god Brockwood has student whose parents are mostly all living in other countries, so we never had to cope with the parents.

S: Yes, yes.

M: Because they are a dominant problem.

S: I know. Yes. Anyway, back to our story, but it’s just interesting, and it’s very significant that Krishnaji felt that even though he loved the house here and he liked being here, he may be prevented from being here if he’s not allowed to carry on his work.

M: And this was the place, really, we were all here because of the pepper tree and this house…

S: Exactly.

M: …and “the process” that happened to him here. Mary L. always said to the degree that he has a home, this is it.

S: Yes, yes. But his work is what comes first.

M: Yes. And if he doesn’t do his work…

S: Yes. And doing his work required having people that he could do it with. It’s all terribly significant.

M: His work was the important thing in his life.

S: Yes, yes. The teachings was everything.

M: Yes.

April eighteenth. ‘It was a very hot day. Scott Forbes is on holiday from Brockwood and came to lunch. I fetched him from the Zorskies.’ You were staying with the Zorskies.’

S: Yes, I remember. I came to see if I would want to leave Brockwood and come to work at the school here. So I went to the Oak Grove School, looked around, got a feel of the place, had an interview with Mark and thought, “No, I don’t want to work here.”

M: Well, you were right because this was…

S: Yes. Well, anyway. [Laughs.]

M: April nineteenth. ‘The weather is still hot. Krishnaji saw Mark, Asha, Erna, Theo, Alan Hooker, Evelyne, and me for a discussion of the school and in particular Asha’s position in it. It was made very clear that Asha may not interfere, as she has constantly in school affairs, and may not be on the staff, etcetera. The position of wives in businesses, etcetera, was explained. Krishnaji led all this. She appeared to concur, but after she and Mark left, she didn’t take it well. Mark came here to tell me this. At 4 p.m. Krishnaji held another discussion with David.’

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[1] This was recorded in 2005. Back to text.

[2] Wikipedia listed Sidney Field as having died in 1975, but IMBd credits him with a screenplay in 1985 and his biography of Krishnaji, The Reluctant Messiah, was published in 1989. Back to text.