This morning I opened the Alice Coltrane folder from my earlier research on musical women. I was reminded that, from 1974 to 1979, we exchanged letters (and one telegram). As I planned my California interviews, I inquired about her upcoming performances. Here is her response:
March 19, 1976
May the Lord's peace and blessings be upon you always. I am presently engaged in the service of the Supreme One and I do not expect to be participating in too many musical activities upon the commercial plane. The highest expression and the highest study I know of is service to the Supreme Lord. And I am actively and presently engaged in such service. I hope that you will become successful in your efforts to fully develop yourself musically. I hope that you will not progress your music to a point which prevents you from evolving spiritually and that your music will always inspire you to seek and realize the Supreme Lord.
May peace be with you,
In March of 1978 Mansur and I visited her ashram, The Vedantic Center, in Woodland Hills, California. We attended a service during which the swami played organ, while she and the devotees sang and chanted. Then, while she and I spoke at length, her children took Mansur, then five years old, on a tour of the grounds.
Just reading through my notes and recalling that encounter has reassured me and put much in perspective. Desires for recognition and material success pale in comparison to knowledge and fulfillment of one's spiritual purpose.