My Friend Phil Cowans, by Dorothy Weiss
For 42 years I was always in awe of my friend Phil. Phil was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming, on January 1, 1935. His parents moved to Miami Beach when Phil was 9. This was to be home for the rest of his life; he attended Beach High and the University of Miami but did not complete his last year at university because he “didn’t think it was important.”
I first met Phil at the Baba meetings on Key Biscayne, given by Bill and Peggy Stevens. Those were great meetings, in the early ’70’s. There was of course the Stevenses (including Roger), Scott O’Neil, David Katz, a wonderful woman by the name of Patricia Sargent, Hermes [Lawrence Reiter] was there and was just finishing classes for photography at the U of M, and many more wonderful ones.
Phil had this great swagger about him, he had beautiful wavy hair and liked to go and dance the Mambo in the clubs in downtown Miami.
His most memorable experience was of course meeting Meher Baba at the East-West gathering. He talked of that meeting with a sadness because of pushing Baba away from their embrace. After a while I told Phil that Baba knew he was gonna do that, and the results ended with Phil being cracked like a coconut, all the water spilled out, and it was most likely spiritually necessary.
Phil got to the gathering on money he borrowed from Harry Kenmore, which was paid back, as Baba had told him to pay off his debts.
In 1963 Phil wanted to go to California and asked Baba permission to do so. Baba asked him if he could get a job there and make a go of it. Phil said he could. Only then did Baba give him his blessings (sometimes Phil would say “blastings”). Well, Phil called Don Stevens and asked if he could stay with Don for a few days until he could find a job. He said Baba had told him to come to California and so Don consented. Don got fed up with Phil ’cause he could not get a job nor did he want to do any menial work. Phil ended up at the YMCA. Instead of looking for work he went to the docks and was talking Baba to the skid row bums: he brought them back to the YMCA and a big fight ensued among the bums, one was beaten badly and Phil called Don for help. Well, Don had to consult Baba about what to do with Phil. Baba told Don to send him to New York. He went but eventually came back to Miami and worked in the garment district for a while till his debts were paid in full.
Phil had asked Baba for the ability to talk to people about Him, and Baba must have given him this gift ’cause he certainly became an endless oral stream of Baba. When he would extemporaneously expound on Baba we started calling it ‘PHIL’osophy. Here is some ‘PHIL’osophy:
“We can say that God in the natural distant quiet reflection vested in the self is indeed most perfect loving and for real non-dual because there is no resistance to the flow of love through it from the source from whence it comes it is self generating. As Jesus said, ‘Do you love others as I love you?’ I don’t see that as all being possible, and so it would appear to be that love at a certain point (which is still lacking ) but at a certain point it can become acceptable to where it can transform itself into obedience, because the two are different between day and night because surrender is different from the former two, so what we’re talking about here is a graduation of the quality of being, in terms of a moment that moment which is now which was before and which will be after has nothing to do with past present or future, it has to do with present forever, immutable never to change so in that respect there’s always the now, there is nothing but now, so how’s that possible? because God as Love personified is ubiquitous in perpetuity and for real, and how to define this love? Forget about that. I try to figure out the aspect of lovingness that’s required to know what experience be beyond the function or the influence of mind, everything that we do seems to be mindful and generated. But the idea here is not to have that as our personal experience but to get into an area that’s unbounded and unlimited and self-sufficient and furthermore reflection of the meaning the purposeness and the reality of the soul and the soul can only be identified I think primarily as love, unlimited, personified and for real and for all times. Now obviously there’s a quality to it and the quantity is unlimited so what Baba says, that just taking his name is not sufficient and will do little, what should be is that if you take his name with love, and there has to be love in this, my question is how do you get that kind of love that is satisfactory and pleasing to Baba to where it transmutes itself into the fullness of the expression obedience and if love has to be thought out and premeditated I must say it’s not love, so love is a very unique quality in terms of its depth, and yet it may not be enough to please Baba. I know that if that be the case then no one would ever progress into obedience. . . .”
There was much correspondence between Baba and Phil, but unfortunately he didn’t save any of it. The only physical thing he did save was his Air India ticket dated October 25, 1962, which I still have along with his birth and death certificates.
I have so many stories of my experiences with Phil and they are all wonderful. Maybe one day they will get told.