It was never dull around Reshad. He managed to stir things up where ever he went. Although he was a bit of a trickster, it was not this quality that had the biggest impact. It was his connection to this thing we call ‘love’. Reshad often made a clear distinction he taught the essence of Sufism, and was not a Sufi or promoting being a Sufi.
The Sufi tradition saw the world built on three poles as a foundation, knowledge, power, and love. There is the story of the sheik who was asked if he could have only one of these three, which would he choose. Dear reader, take a moment to reflect on what your choice would be. Most people choose love. The sheik chose knowledge. With knowledge he said, he can learn to love. Reshad learned about Sufism from a teacher who was in the line of love. This line is connected to the poet Rumi, whos writings are endlessly quoted.
In one unusual situation, the Swiss woman I traveled with after my European tour, ended up marrying Reshad. I ended up sharing the house Reshad used to live in with his now ex-wife. People wrongly assumed Reshad and I had switched partners.
At the beginning of one summer seminar in Germany, Reshad arrived having had too much to drink. It was his lifelong battle that promoted many health issues. Like Yogi Bhajan who had heart problems, students were often confused as to why these two great teachers were not healthy. The answer is both complicated and simple. They were, after all, human beings, who still carried the scars of life. It is romantic and wishful thinking that if one raises their consciousness, then the health will become perfect. It just does not work this way.
Back to the seminar, I did a prayer inside myself for Reshad to be able to stop drinking during the seminar. It seemed an innocent act on my part. On the first night, we were dancing and singing and have a wonderful time. Reshad and I even sang a duet of one of the 3HO songs called, Flowers in the Rain. Reshad was a talented musician and singer. I was hoping to not embarrass myself, too much. Towards the end of the evening, Reshad collapsed and was taken to the hospital.
During the next days, he remained in the hospital and the team took over the classes. I felt as if my personal prayer had caused this reaction since he could not continue drinking while in the hospital. After a few days, Reshad sent a message asking me to come visit. I was certain he would expose what I had done. As I entered his hospital room, he cheerfully welcomed me and let me know how valuable our friendship was to him. I could then relax. He then went on about a new album he was enjoying and suggested I get a copy. I did and it was wonderful. Songs of Awakening by Lama Gyurme. He excitedly pointed out how the last track had more instrumentals and it made a wonderful effect.
Reshad had some delightful although unusual preferences. He loved bagpipes and sometimes found a musician to come and play at the end of a seminar. I must admit I also find these odd instruments delightful. He always ended his seminars with a gift. After one seminar he gave everyone a card with a photo of his back, looking at the sun. The students freaked out believing it meant he was turning his back on them and they would now be on their own. After a suitable time had passed and the students were at peak frustration, he explained the meaning. He and the students would face the light together. He was good at challenging limiting and fearful beliefs.
Once Reshad invited me to meet him in Freiburg. I was still living in Frankfurt at the time in an apartment near the zoo with a neighbor who smoked pot. On the night before I was to visit Reshad, the neighbor was playing very loud music. Needing to get to sleep to catch an early train, I went down to his apartment to ask him to turn the music down. After banging on the door for five minutes, I concluded he was either dead or out and just forgot to turn the radio off. I was frustrated and needed to sleep. I got quiet inside myself and decided I could turn off my hearing. With a little effort, I was able to do this and finally get to sleep. But I had not thought so far ahead and also did not hear my alarm in the morning. I had to catch a later train. In the time before mobile phones, it was much harder to let someone know about such changes. Typical, Reshad warmly welcomed me and then sternly pointed out I was late. We stayed for a couple of days in the old town in the Golden Bear Hotel. We took walks and enjoyed the time discussing many topics. On one such walk, he put his arm around me and asked what it was like to sleep with his wife, who previously was a girlfriend from me. I smiled and said were gentlemen and I would not discuss such things. He accepted this and we moved on to other topics. He never ran out of things to talk about. This seems to be a common theme for many teachers.
One night for dinner we went to a Chinese restaurant. During dinner, Reshad began speaking to me about a very powerful spiritual theme while he held my hands. The exact details I do not remember, but the feeling was one of transformation. I felt the room spinning and remembering we were in a restaurant, he quickly added, he had put us in a bubble of light and no one was noticing what we were doing. In a quick glance around, all the tables around ours were empty and the rest of the diners were not paying us any attention. This potent heat-producing energy continued for some more minutes and then it was over and life seemed ‘normal’ again. So what happened? I can only guess it was a healing for us both.
I could write more about Reshad, but decided, for now, this is enough. He was a powerful catalyst. His exuberance and support have made a huge difference in my life. He was a friend who I am fortunate to still carry in my heart.
In life, people touch us, challenge us, remind us, heal us, and then they leave. This time between meeting and leaving might be years, minutes, or just a glance. Not every ‘meeting’ will be understood, but all will be part of this diving play.
photo of Reshad when he was still Tim Feilds and part of the folk group, The Springfields back in 1961. Dusty Springfield went on to a successful solo career. Reshad is on the left, Dusty and her brother