My late partner, Michael Toms, and I met with Dorothy and Jim Fadiman for over 40 years. For the most part these were intimate gatherings for deep conversations that just happened to be in the presence of microphones so that thousands of others could “listen in.” A brief rundown of the subjects we covered over the years gives a sense of the depth and breadth of their combined knowledge and wisdom: Sufi tales, listening to our inner voice, intuitive wisdom, exploring inner freedom, creativity, the invisible world, the evolutionary leap, vision into form, relationship, humor and spirit, goddesses, social change, the 60s, Haight Ashbury, psychedelics, and filmmaking to name a few. It is always exciting, provocative, and enlightening as well as a deep privilege to “play” with these two pilgrims on the path of the possible. Recently I was able to attend a celebration gala of their joint 78th birthday, where I had the opportunity to share the following story to illustrate the great mystery that is steering this ship of life.
I recalled a very special event involving Dorothy in the mid-1980s when we sat down with her to record one of the many interviews we did with her through the years. This particular interview would be focusing on listening to our inner voice.
We were usually pressed for time because Michael and I had to drive 2-1/2 hours from our home in Ukiah, California to our San Francisco studio. On this trip to the studio we uncharacteristically made a stop by the San Francisco New Dimensions office.
To our surprise there was a package addressed to Dorothy at the office. Since we were going to see her this very day, we picked up the package to hand-deliver it.
When we arrived for the interview Dorothy told us that she felt bad that she had left, by her bed, her revered copy of Coleman Barks’ translation of Rumi poems, Open Secret. She said she was already on the freeway when she remembered it and was tempted to turn around to retrieve it but heard her inner voice assuring her “It will be all right.”
We listened in sympathy about her not feeling comfortable leaving it behind. Then we handed her the unopened package that we had picked up in the office. Inside was a signed copy of Coleman Barks’ Open Secret with a note saying that he had heard a previous New Dimensions interview with Dorothy as he was driving in Georgia. He told her that he felt a deep simpatico with her and wanted to send her a copy of the book.
Needless to say, this story was used in the interview as an illustration of listening to one’s inner voice.
All these synchronicities in the event were not lost on us:
- We stopped by the office, which we rarely did before an interview.
- There was a package for Dorothy there.
- We were doing an interview with Dorothy that very day
- The subject of the interview was listening to the inner voice.
- Dorothy left her Open Secret at home but listened to her inner voice and did not go back to retrieve it because she thought it would make her late to the interview.
- Some weeks earlier, Coleman Barks heard a New Dimensions interview with Dorothy and felt compelled to write her a note and send her a book in care of New Dimensions.
- The book arrived at the office in time for Michael and me to pick it up for the interview.
- The book was a copy of the very book that Dorothy had left at home with the added bonus and gift of being signed by Coleman Barks.
- This incident served as the opening part of the dialogue with Dorothy, appropriate to the topic of listening to one’s inner voice.
This surely supports what Rumi said 800 years ago, “If you could get rid of yourself just once, the secret of secrets would open to you. The face of the unknown, hidden beyond the universe would appear on the mirror of your perception!”
– Justine Willis Toms