On the eve of Thanksgiving Day, I called Barbara Marx Hubbard, author, social innovator and protégé of world famous futurist Buckminster Fuller. On the second ring, she answered enthusiastically, “Rama how wonderful to hear from you!’
“Barbara, how and where are you?” I asked. At the age of 86, she still travels the world as a keynote speaker for co-creative synergy, uniting individuals, groups, corporations and governments. She responded, “I’m sitting at the kitchen table helping my daughter make cornbread.”
How perfect I thought, remembering the years we worked together to find new and creative ways to establish bridges between the Soviet and American people during the Cold War era. There were times when we were so exhausted from non-stop meetings in Moscow that we would drag ourselves down the long corridors of Russian hotels to our shared room and drop into bed moaning and groaning with fatigue.
After her unprecedented run for Vice Presidency of the United States in 1984, Barbara who was always on the leading edge of humanity’s needs, spoke to the heart of the Russian people as well as their leaders. They understood her when she spoke of the Alpha and Omega, and building a wheel of transformation of the entire social body of humanity. They understood her when she emphasized the need for convergence of co-creativity for governments to work together rather than remain in conflict with one another.
I had called to say, “Barbara, I am so sorry that I couldn’t be at the dinner that was a tribute to you and your ongoing work in the world.” She laughed and replied that her sister Patricia Ellsberg spoke about our work in the former Soviet Union. She had reminisced about the meeting Barbara and I had with Yuri Gagarin, head of the Soviet Cosmonaut Association in Moscow, and the first human to journey into outer space in 1961. Patricia is the wife of Daniel Ellsberg who released the Pentagon Papers that led to the Watergate hearings during President Nixon’s era.
Earlier in my work of creating people-to-people exchanges of US and USSR citizens, I had cultivated relationships with Georgy Grechko and Svetlana Savitskaya, who walked in space years after Gagarin made his first orbit of Earth.
One spring, I spent a boat ride on the Moscow River with Valentina Tereshkova, considered to be the first female Cosmonaut to have flown in space. It was fascinating to listen to detailed descriptions of her physical and mystical experiences of outer space.
Soon after that boat ride I was called to the offices of the Cosmonauts in Moscow and was surprised and humbled when they presented me with their version of the Medal of Honor. The Medal was in appreciation of our work in bringing Soviet and American people together, including Russian Cosmonauts with American Astronauts.
Then, Barbara and I were being invited to go on a Soviet Mission to the moon! We looked at each other and said, almost in unison, “I’ve always wanted to go to the moon.” Barbara looked so surprised and said, “Rama, I didn’t know you wanted to go to the moon.” We found that we both had this dream since childhood.
“You can teach us Yoga before and during the expedition,” one of the cosmonauts exclaimed looking at me. They were enthusiastic at this concept. We discussed how the amount of oxygen one uses in space travel can be greatly reduced through Yoga breathing.
Now, 27 years later Barbara and I laughed in memory of those special moments in building our relations with Soviets from all walks of life and organizations.
At 4:30 am I awakened to another Thanksgiving Day. I didn’t start Yoga practices immediately but instead luxuriated in reviewing my conversation with Barbara the afternoon before. Barbara has continued bringing the Wheel of Transformation and co-creative synergy to other countries of the world as an example of how they can work together in building a positive future for their country and in turn…the world.
I give thanks this day and everyday to her for being a continuing inspiration in my life as well as a vast shining light on our planet.
Barbara didn’t talk of the President-elect and his many shortcomings, or of the antiquated and out-dated electoral system. She didn’t mention Hilary’s lead of two million in the popular vote, the largest margin ever for someone who would not be inaugurated. She did not speak of fear of the future of the direction of our country under conservative appointees. Instead, she spoke of all the positive opportunities of groups and countries now organizing under the model of the Wheel of Transformation.
As we said our goodbyes, my heart filled with hope for the future of humankind and positive possibilities. As a futurist, Barbara has always been a visionary way ahead of her time, seeing a vision that some of us could not yet see.
On this Thanksgiving day my heart was filled with love and gratitude for knowing this amazing woman and having the past privilege of traveling with her, working with her, and sharing stories of our visions of a positive future. Over the years, we also shared many stories of motherhood, as we both had five children each and faced many challenges in the fulfillment of our life’s destiny.
And now, she helped her daughter in the Northwest make cornbread for Thanksgiving dinner as I baked cookies in California at the home of my daughter, Andrea.
No, we never got to the moon, but Barbara helped me come to the realization of the words of Mother Teresa, Saint Teresa of Calcutta, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
For more information about Barbara Marx Hubbard visit these web sites:
I was deeply saddened when I recently learned of the passing of Magana Baptiste in May. Magana and her husband Walt were my teachers and inspiration for nearly five years, long before yoga gained its current popularity.
When I first moved to San Francisco in 1960, I noticed a huge sign in an upstairs studio that simply said YOGA. These four letters stood out like a beacon of light in the center of The City. After driving by this sign for two years, I finally found the energy, with baby on my back, to climb the seemingly endless staircase to enroll in Yoga classes taught by Magana and Walt. I did not know at the time that they would change the course of my life.
The classes were taught in a dark room with dim lights and candles. Soft inspirational music could be heard in the background as students with eyes closed propelled themselves through breath, effortlessly into asana. The classes were a marvel. It seemed as if we were in a continual meditative state no matter what the body was doing.
Magana taught Yoga and dance throughout her pregnancy with Baron Baptiste. She maintained her fitness and beauty during her pregnancy and over the years. She was like a Goddess in the way she brought dignity, grace, fluidity and beauty to everything she did. When she invited me to join her Middle Eastern dance troupe, I was honored and excited to accept, in hopes that some of the grace she exuded would spill over onto me.
The Baptiste’s were truly pioneers of Yoga in America. They were both students of Swami Sivananda in India who, through his disciples, populated Yoga here in this country. Together, Magana and Walt brought the mysticism of the East to this continent in an era when many confused Yoga with Yoghurt!
The Baptistes taught tirelessly throughout the years and expanded their work when Yoga became increasingly popular. Their methodology brought the students in closer contact with the inner Self, emphasizing the importance of the subtle body and the direct experience of Union with the Divine.
It is said in the scriptures of Yoga, that great souls are born into the family of Yogis. According to the Bhagavad Gita (chapter six):
“one of the best births, though difficult to attain, is to be reborn into a family of yogis”
Now the Baptiste children, Sherri Baptiste Freeman, Devi Ananda Baptiste, and Baron Baptiste carry on their parent’s work in ever-increasing, creative ways.
Magana and Walt gave me a powerful foundation of deeper Yoga that sustained years of exploration into other methodologies. Now I find students and teachers coming full circle to experience the breath and spirituality in asana rather than separating them from one another.
Even though Magana’s presence will be greatly missed on this earth plane, she and Walt have left an unending legacy of Yoga that will inspire many generations to come.
For this I am eternally grateful.
For more about Magana and Walt Baptiste see the following websites: