Hell Bent For HeavenChapter Ten
My Big Splash in Hollywood
I went to Hollywood and began to be invited to meet many people. The Sri Meher Baba group came into my life again. I was invited to Malcolm and Jean Schloss' home. On their wall was an interesting picture of a being with a high hat that reached up to a long peak. The face was smiling as if in ecstasy. I said simply, "I know a dance like that." Malcolm and Jean looked at me strangely: "What do you mean you know a dance? This picture is a copy of one in a museum in Paris. It is a figure from an ancient civilization, from the Angkor Wat shrine in Cambodia. What exactly do you mean?"
I explained to them that while I was in Santa Barbara, I used to go out into the woods to meditate and read. One day as I entered the woods, a small figure under five feet tall appeared from the other world. She told me to learn a dance. She stood and danced in front of me like a teacher and I danced following her every move. We worked for a long time, but I was so lost in concentration that I didn't notice it passing by. Then she taught me a chant and told me to dance to my own chanting. She also told me what instruments I could use as percussion. Before I could thank this beautiful being, she disappeared. Her face was sweet and angelic, like the picture on the wall.
Malcolm and Jean looked at each other incredulously. They were excited and asked me to dance for them, which I did. They asked me what other dances I had. "I have a whole concert with costumes," I said. I explained how the headdress for the Angkor Wat dance came in an interesting way. I was wondering how I could get a headdress of this sort. I was broke and couldn't send away to Cambodia even if there were such a headdress there. It became a problem. One afternoon, not having slept during the night, I lay down to rest. I went into a deep state and heard a voice telling me how to make a headdress. It said to use a lid from a pot, a funnel and a stick carved smoothly round that ended in a point. I was to turn the funnel upside down so the point was upward and then have it welded onto the pot-top. The carved stick was to be glued into the funnel end. They then said to get some rice and glue a design to the funnel and to the top of the lid. All this was to be painted gold, with a cap of gold material sewn to the gold top. "This," said the voice, "would make a headdress worthy of the dance." The instructions were over and I complied with them. The headdress came out rather nice.
"The other dances you asked about," I explained, "were also received mostly by inspiration." A Mayan priestess dance came with its chant through a vision in a dream. In the vision I saw a pyramid, but it was different, not like the Egyptian pyramids; it had a square chamber on top with a door and stairs leading down to the ground. I saw a priestess come out doing movements and chanting. Like the Angkor Wat chant, I memorized it. Later I was taken to a meeting at the women's club in Santa Barbara, not knowing what the subject of the meeting was to be. Upon arrival, I found that it was to be on Mayan culture. The lecturer was an expert on the subject. I went backstage to talk to the lecturer and asked if she could verify that the chant I knew was Mayan. She listened carefully and then said that it was undoubtedly ancient Mayan.
I had sung some other chants for Swami Yogananda. They had strange syllables and had come to me in meditation. He had confirmed that they were Sanskrit.
I had been accompanying myself by chanting when I danced. It had a captivating effect on the audience, being so different. These dances were also exciting to perform.
Malcolm said, "Please tell us more about these dances you perform. I have an idea formulating. What made you do this type of dancing when you were trained for ballet?" I answered, "I had been dancing merely for entertainment prior to attending a church in the country. I saw only a half dozen people attending, so I took a vow to myself that if people won't go to church, I would take church to them through dancing. When this decision was made, I began to get inner help and guidance on how to accomplish it through new dance compositions. I began to rearrange my concert program, and many new and interesting dance patterns began to come into my mind. I was even shown by Master Hilarion how to practice correctly. I would go into the studio and start the exercises, but if I rested too soon through laziness, the Master would reprimand me and make me continue. After the required time for practice, he would say, `Now rest for fifteen minutes, with complete relaxation.' He would then have me start again. In this way, with ease and no tension, I was able to practice many hours a day.
"One day I went into the studio and decided to create a humorous dance. As I stood there I heard, `Compose the dance of Saint Francis.' I argued, `No, I want to do a comedy dance.' Almost against my will I found myself doing a dance in modern ballet movements on some of the aspects of the life of Saint Francis. I had not read his life and knew little of the saint, yet I easily eased into his mood. I stood in the studio and became Saint Francis in my mind, and in my imagination a white dove flew and perched upon my shoulder, then flew away to freedom the freedom Saint Francis did not have. With these modern dance movements, I acted out his life and ended with striking my head three times on the floor. Soon after this, reading the life of Saint Francis, I found that in his travail he had struck his head upon the earth thrice; then Christ appeared and he became reconciled to his life. It was only when the dance was complete I was told within to go to a music store and buy a certain record. I found the music and it fit together with the dance perfectly.
"A dance of Mary came in a similar way, the movements of the dance re-enacting her life story. Jan designed a stained glass window by painting colored designs on muslin cloth and putting a light in back to give the translucent effect of glass.
"The `Dance of Life' came into the mind first and then was translated into movement. This dance showed humanity's struggle to come out of the darkness of self into the peace and freedom of being unshackled through aspiration towards the light.
"Malcolm, I think one of the most interesting dances which came through me was of the primordial fire coming forth and creating and forming matter into earth. I was shown each step and movement and then when I was through I asked, `What shall I call this dance?' The name `Fohat' came.
"These dances are my way of taking higher ideas, or what I called `church,' to people. Dance and art are forms of lifting humankind, but over the ages they have deteriorated to mere entertainment. I feel art could be inspiration and still not be creepy or dull."
Jean and Malcolm stood quietly looking at each other and then Jean said, "I have an exciting thought. I would like to get some friends together to have you give a concert. We will invite Swami Yogananda, too. We know just the theater for the concert."
The little theater was artistic, and a group of us worked together in harmony to make the concert a success. I was too spaced out in those days to think it was a great honor that Swami Yogananda would attend. The night of the performance was exciting. The curtain opened and there sat Swami in the front row. After the performance he came backstage with his entourage and said he enjoyed it. His smile was so warm and loving that I felt he really meant it. He said, "Get someone to sponsor you and you will go far."
Because of the success of this concert, the group helping me became ambitious. They came up with the brilliant idea to give another performance and invite important directors and people of influence so that "my message" would go forth to a waiting world. Prince Midvani's glorious garden was arranged for the great appearance. Spotlights played upon the green trees and flowers, making the garden into a veritable fairyland. In the back of the garden, which rose to a hilltop, a stream flowed down, with colored lights enhancing the view. The stream ended in a deep, six-foot lily pool. The garden had been arranged beautifully with comfortable chairs and soft elegant sofas. Beautiful people in evening clothes were sitting on the patio being served drinks in frosted glasses. It was Hollywood in its most elegant stageset. The elite were arranged so they could sit in comfort and watch the performance. Even the heaven worlds could not compete with the "colossal splendor" of this scene.
The only one who didn't fit into this great scheme was me. Chanting was, I thought, part of my forte for this performance. But destiny thought otherwise. Three days before the event, I got laryngitis. I couldn't even croak. All my new spiritual friends were praying like mad for my healing. Yet the more they prayed, the worse my throat became. I mentally adjusted and said, "I have a `New World Dance' that has a great message for the world. It will look wonderful in this garden setting."
I danced "Elephant Boy" and tried the "Angkor Wat" without chanting. They were both flops. Then came the moment for the "New World Dance," heralding the coming of the New Age. I was confident that it would be appreciated accompanied by the CÚsar Franck Symphony in D Minor. The lights came on for the dance. I didn't need my voice for this, only my soul's love for a new world which would come forth on this Earth. I could tell by the silence that I had the audience with me. They were a stuffy audience, all sitting in separate groups without any unity. I felt the dance would do something for them, and it truly did. I came to the triumphant end, where in white robes I go up the stage step by step, carefully backing up and feeling my foot on the platform. There was no platform there I had forgotten. I backed up carefully with my arms raised in exaltation and suddenly fell into space. I found myself at the bottom of the six-foot lily pool submerged in scummy, cold water. I had disappeared from sight so suddenly that some of the audience thought I had resurrected, white robe and all. There was a long, silent pause while everyone's mind adjusted to the scene. Then a roar of laughter broke forth which lasted for fifteen minutes. All those stuffy people became one as they rolled with laughter. Some of the directors came and fished me out, pulling me by my arms. I arose like an apparition, except that I looked like the most bedraggled thing with wet, straight hair all over my face and the white robe of the world's hope all soaked and clinging to my body in a most inelegant way. To put it mildly, I looked like a mess. As I was fished out, the laughter grew louder and louder and turned into a ruckus.
It was a fun Hollywood party for the others, but not for me. My ego was not hurt, but I was damn mad at God. I felt the same feeling I had felt when my purse was stolen. I grouched all the way to the dressing room. All the way home I said, "God, why didn't You remind me that there was no platform with stairs there? You know everything! Couldn't You have saved me? If You can give me the dances, You could also tell me that. Why did You open my hearing to You if You don't talk to me and warn me when I need it?" There was no answer absolute silence within. It was destiny's way of putting me on the path I was to tread. Hollywood was not to be in the scheme of things.
I began to have the feeling that I would like to return to Oakland. It became clear and strong within me. I had no money to get there and was thinking on that when I received a letter from a friend who was in the moving business. He said that a spiritual lecturer wanted some furniture moved from Los Angeles to Oakland. The lecturer had called my friend and said, "I was looking in the Yellow Pages and somehow your name stood out. I felt inside that I should call you to see if you'd like to take the job." My friend took the job and said that he also had to take a couch back to Oakland and that I could sit on it with ease if I wished to make a trip home to see my mother. The timing was perfect. I rode home in the back of a moving truck on an elegant sofa, meditating and reading, knowing this was my sign that the Masters of Wisdom were wiser than I, even if they did have me fall in the lily pool in order to once more turn me towards the direction in which I should proceed.
It was nice to see Mother and be back in Northern California. A friend had found me a building which had once been a small bank. It was on Domingo Avenue in Berkeley, across from the Clairmont Hotel. The setting, with the hotel grounds just across the way, was beautiful. This studio cum ashram consisted of a huge room downstairs, a large cement hole where a vault had once been, and a toilet which was converted into a kitchen by installing a small electric toaster. On the mezzanine where the bankers once held court was a sitting room used at night for sleeping, and a toilet. There was no bath or shower. I either sneaked into the hotel across the way or went to the YMCA and had a shower.
The studio became very elegant. Fifty yards of white fabric were hung on the end like a stage drop. Candelabras were on each side and flowers always arrived from someone. It had a dramatic effect with its incense, curtains and candles. Sometimes a person off the street would open the door and poke their head in and say, "What is this? What is this feeling here?" It had atmosphere. The best part of the bank was the huge curved windows that went from four feet above the floor up to the twenty-foot ceiling.
I had no furniture in the studio, so every time Louis dropped in he would say, "You should have furniture and a small stove on which to cook." I made it very clear to him that if there were to be either, they must come without anyone spending money, absolutely free. Louis was adamant, and one day he spoke sharply to me: "What is this? You want to be the only one that has the privilege of giving? You don't want anyone else to have that joy? What about the rest of us? Are we to be always on the receiving line, never giving?" That rebuke gave a new perspective to the spiritual life. It made separation cease, and giving and taking part of life itself. Nevertheless, I was still unyielding regarding the furniture and stove. I felt God who created me could take care of me.
Louis had a part-time job at a furniture store. The next day the manager asked him if he would be willing to take some new modern chrome furniture until the manager had some time to store it. Louis came that evening to bring the furniture, with a grin on his face: "You win."
A few days later he went on a job in his moving van and, far out in the country away from all houses in an open field, he spotted a small two-burner gas stove in perfect condition. His grin was even broader when he came that evening with his prize stove in his hands. He said, "Life is fun when God is on your side. No correction, Hilda. Life is fun when you are on God's side."
When I was deep in meditation a few days later, The Mother came to test me and see if I could maintain the same frame of mind in austerity as in the abundance that had been flowing my way. I felt a freedom from the Earth pull come within my body, saw a burst of light within my brow, and then heard The Mother's voice, "If you were in the gutter with no place to sleep, would you still love Me?" There was no hesitation. "Yes, Mother." Then Her voice was heard again. "If you had no flowers on your altar, no one cared to bring any, everyone was deserting you, would you cease to love Me?" "No, Mother." That was all. I sat for an hour bathed in Her love when a knock came on the door, and there stood Louis with bunches of flowers in his arms.
He recounted his story. He had been driving in his van when suddenly he had an inspiration to go to a flower shop and buy myriads of gladioluses. After filling his van, he asked the owner of the flower shop for one white gardenia. The owner answered, "I don't have any today. The shipment of flowers hasn't arrived yet." Louis was persistent and the man in a disturbed tone said, "If you don't believe me, look in the refrigerator for yourself." Louis opened the door and there in the empty refrigerator was one white gardenia, still covered with dew. The man stared with a face showing incredulity. He said, "That is impossible. It can't be. It wasn't there a few minutes ago." He looked at Louis quizzically, then said, "You may have it free."
Louis brought armload after armload of gladioluses into the studio. They were of innumerable colors. The studio smelt and looked like a flower shop. The Mother put Her idea over in a big way. If you surrender, Mother will take over. Give up willingly and you don't have to have it taken away. You can beat God to the draw.
I began to think about how I would pay the rent, for I was still on the self-righteous path of obedience and poverty. This problem was solved when a friend with a child came to see me and asked, "Hilda, I want my child to take dancing lessons from you. I can arrange at my child's school for them to let you use the gym free, and the children will come directly to the class from their rooms. I will collect the money for you. You will not have to worry about that." I agreed, and this arrangement enabled me to work only one day a week and make enough for rent and food. The rest of the time could be used for meditating, creating dances, and holding spiritual classes.
The Masters seemed content that I had at last found a place of my own where I could work with them in peace. They usually worked with me after midnight, when the world with its vibrations of activity began to quiet down and the air would become still. "We are pleased with the arrangements you have for living. We have had a council meeting and have decided to start dictation on the booklet <MI%-22>T<%0>he Golden Quest. Be prepared with pen and paper. We will start tomorrow night. We will not work tonight, for you have had a full day. Tonight while your body rests in sleep, we will train you and give you counsel on the work which is to begin."
The next night I sat with a pencil and paper, waiting. It was the early hours of the morning before I felt the vibration of the room begin to change. The light came and I felt Master Hilarion there. "A booklet will be dictated through you, not a book to be kept on dusty shelves, but a little book of light kept in the heart. Keep the lessons in the book simple and direct, eliminating all unnecessary words and thoughts. The thoughts must be like darts of light penetrating to the very heart of the mind. Do not bring your own personality into it. Simply state the truth, for there is a vibration in every word that will go to the hearts of the readers to lodge there and blossom into a flower of truth. Change as little as possible. You have done well and the ground is now broken, so it will be easy for you from now on. At all times, use your instrument, the body, with care. We need pure channels, for the harvest is great and the workers are few."
We started. His instructions were, "Let all else drop away until this task is done. Work ceaselessly. Let no negative thought mar a perfect completion of your work. Do not let anything disturb your vision. The format is as follows: one chapter will deal with self-mastery, the next will be meditation, and the third will be the power of thoughts, words and actions. Let us start now.
The destiny of humankind is in the balance. The deciding factor rests upon those souls who are willing to sacrifice their own desires for the good of humanity. This book is dedicated to all those brave, selfless people striving to pull the world out of chaos..."
For the next three weeks I was immersed in the writing of the lessons for Master Hilarion. For a week or more after the booklet was completed, I rested my mind and body by walking in the woods and going to the beach to let nature harmonize me.
The Master appeared once more after the booklet was completed and said, "Rest, Daughter. I will leave you for a while. Another service will be entrusted to you by a new teacher. The service will be in your own line, which is art, dance and music. Blessings on you."