Irina Tweedie, a Russian Lady, decided sometime way back in the early 1960′s to study yoga with a Naqshbandi Sufi teacher. (He was actually Hindu but took up Sufism and studied for many years under a Sufi Master, until his enlightenment.)
Irina Tweedie’s books “Daughter of Fire” and “Chasm of Fire,” tell clearly the story of a Woman’s experience of liberation through the teachings of a Sufi Master. The books are written in the form of a diary. Her dear teacher had told her to keep a diary on their first meeting. He also told her she would one day write a book that would help enlighten seekers on the spiritual path. During her training, guruji, did not give her any specific spiritual practices. Her teachings consisted largely of her sitting in his courtyard or house, observing his interaction with other disciples and family, with occasional terse conversations with him. She was at one time thrown out of the house and had to return to England with no money. Also at one time she contemplated suicide but her guruji said, “I have not brought you this far to let you do that!” She was never treated as special on the contrary, she was often treated harshly. Her guriji did not treat anyone more speical than others. Yet, he gave each what they asked for and in most cases, they were not after things of a spiritual nature.
The result was one of intense stress, the cultural differences, the heat,smells, physical illnesses, and her own emotional deprivation seemed to cause a progressive emptying of her personality. Her ‘guruji’. who felt she had travelled so far for truth, gave her the highest possible teaching because she proved to be ready. Her teacher described his method of instruction in the following way:
“..we do not teach but quicken. I am stronger than you so your currents adjust themselves to mine.” Thus causing, the stronger magnetic field to affect, quicken and weaken.”
This combination of suffering so that she would lose herself in every way, and her guruji’s continued presence and influence resulted in a very different type of spiritual experience. Her guru was not in anyway famous outside his own region of India. He was a married man with a family. Yet, his teaching was not only masterful but also thorough and majestic. The book Irina Tweedie eventually wrote, some eleven years after his death, is now considered a spiritual classic, along with those books written by Sri Yogananda. I thoroughly recommend ‘Daughter of Fire’ to seekers of all traditions.
Irina with guruji and other disciples
The Talk begins: (in her own words.)
The subject for tonight is, I think, rather interesting, it deals with the powers latent in man. There are two great powers which we can achieve or which are rather our Divine heritage. It is the Divine power from God and it is the Power of Yoga. Yoga is really union. The Sanskrit word Yoga means Union, union with God. How the yogic or Divine powers is acquired, there are slight differences and slight difference in working.
The divine power is given. It is a state of grace. It is given only when the person has surrendered to the light within, which is One with God. Because we in the Theosophy, we believe that the soul of man is one ray of infinite truth. Or God. I use the word God deliberately because it is short and everyone knows what I mean. The word truth or infinite light is not always familiar to people. It is all the same thing. It is all light. It is all God within and without. Like fish in water, we are in him and he is in our form. Now the divine power is given when the human being is completely surrendered to his maker. The yogic power is acquired, by the yogi or aspirant, through concentration, meditation and stilling of the mind. It is a very, very difficult process.
My dear teacher, who was a very, very great yogi of India…. I have just returned from India…. He died on the 21st of July. He left his physical body. I had to go to the Himalayan Mountains to recuperate in solitude. It was a shock, a great shock to us disciples.
My dear teacher worked with both the divine and the yogic powers. You see the working of the divine power and yogic power are a little bit different. For divine power you need faith. For yogic power you don’t need faith. And you don’t need faith for magic. But magic is a very low subject. I won’t touch that subject tonight, I am only going to speak about the yogic and divine powers.
I always remember the words of Christ when St. Peter wanted to walk on water, when he suddenly lost faith and became afraid and began to sink. Christ pulled him up and asked him where was his faith.
If you have no faith, the divine power will not work with you. In other words, if you come to a great yogi for a healing or anything. If you do not believe in him, the power will not work.
People came to my teacher for healings and others for help with the process in the law court. They want to win the case. People come to the yogi for all sorts of things and if, like my teacher, the yogi is great, if he is one with God, he will know which human being can be helped and which cannot. You see, we in the Theosophy believe in the laws of karma. Karma is the law of cause and effect. If I did evil, then evil will come to me. If I did something which is considered good, then something good will come to me too. If the human being is sick and has great troubles and cannot be helped, this is something the person themselves have created. The yogi cannot help you. He will not hurt your feelings. He will not say I cannot help you. We disciples, we noticed one day, that our teacher use to sometimes say, “I can only pray.” This is a refusal.
Yet, if a person of faith came to him, and said, “my child is dying of smallpox or cholera” which happens often. People just die away. They cannot be helped with these cases. They die. My teacher would look at the child and say ’go home’ and give him a glass of water. The father would say, “but he cannot keep the water down”. My teacher would say “he can take the water and he will be fine. Just go home and let him sleep for twenty four hours and he will be fine“. The next day the child would be well.
I saw in my teacher’s house, a servant falling ill with smallpox. One day I arrived in his garden. There was no one there. This was very unusual. Someone came to me and said, “Mrs. Tweedie, our servant is ill with smallpox. You may be a afraid to stay.” I was not afraid as I had been vaccinated against smallpox for my journey to India. I stayed in the garden. After sometime, my dear teacher came out, he was a very old man, with a snowy white beard. He was all dressed in white. He said, “Mrs. Tweedie, you may like to leave because our servant is ill.” I said, “No I want to stay, I have had a vaccination“. He said, “our servant has smallpox.” I said, “would it not be better to send her to the hospital.” He replied, “Oh no she will be alright. I gave her a glass of water. And tomorrow she will be well.” Now this was a little bit too much for me quite frankly. Coming from the West, I had faith in my dear teacher but this was a little bit too much. I said nothing because I could not believe it, The next day the servant was washing dishes and she was full of smallpox marks. I asked, “For goodness sake is she not contagious!” My teacher said, “Oh no, I gave her a glass of water and that was that.”
I have seen the case of a mad dog who had bitten six people. Five of those died. The one who got the glass of water from guruji was alright. We called him guruji because that is the term used in India. The word ‘guru’ is teacher. The ‘ji’ is used as a term of endearment. It is like saying Sir guru….It is a Sanskrit word. Guru means the light and the dark…. Gu – ru. He gave her a glass of water and she was alright. Like Christ he did this work.
Here in the west, I have not seen anyone cast out spirits. I have been told that some priest do it. The R.C. church has priest trained to do this work. I have never seen it. I have seen my teacher cast out an evil spirit from a boy. It was a horrific sight. The boy was rolling on the floor, foaming at the mouth. He looked like he was suffering from an epileptic fit. My teacher said it is not a fit but a spirit. He then ordered the spirit to go out. It is was a terrific sight. My teacher was all dressed in white and very majestic. He pointed with his finger to the outline of the boy and drew an invisible line around him. The boy was lying on the floor, foaming and shouting. My teacher was saying very sternly to the spirit. “Go out or I will burn thee and all thy family”. Now, I did not know he was talking to the spirit. I thought he was speaking to the boy, and in my ignorance, I thought was a terrible way to talk to this boy when he is in this condition, then suddenly the boy became sort of blackish in his face, or blue rather and stopped shouting and was completely calm. I said to myself, the boy has died, guruji has killed him! But after a few minutes, the boy sat up, with a perfectly normal expression on his face. He folded his hands in India salute and said, “thank you.” It was so beautiful to see the boy well. He rose and left with his father. He was from one of the local villages and he went home. I turned to my guruji and said, “well I never saw anything like this in the West.” He said, “Oh! this is nothing. When you stay with me you will see many such cases and much more of this sort of thing, It is nothing. It is the grace of God. We are given that. But we don’t care for these powers, we are not after these things.”
“We Yogis can do anything but we cannot heal everyone.”
In the afternoon, when in his garden, I asked him what he meant by the words,“I will burn thee and all thy relations“. He said, “Well those evil spirits are part of evolution, just as we are part of evolution. There are human beings, there are evil spirits, there are angels, there are all sorts of things. There are birds, and animals. These spirits are of a group soul. They are never alone. They are like a whole family. So when one is killed the others die too. I have no rights to kill a spirit. When an evil spirit enters a human being then I have a duty to help the human being because he is one of my own kind. So I cast out the spirit. But if the spirit disobeys me and comes again, I have the right to kill it. Although I will not kill it without warning. I have to give it a warning. But if the spirit is disobedient then I have the right to kill it. I first have to give the evil spirit a warning and I give it three times. But with me it never happens! I give the warning once, it is enough. When a saint has great powers, the spirits dare not return“. Actually the young man and his father never returned.
This is the end of part one of the lengthy talk given by Ms. Irina Tweedie on her return from India sometime in the late 1960’s. I will be translating more of the speech in the next few days and will post it when it is ready.