Sunday, May 25, 2008

New Orleans Pagan Buddhists

Kumi Maitreya was an avatar and the last incarnation of the Buddha. If you believe it, it is so.
If you are not aware of whom Kumi was, you are not aware of a slice of New Orleans history that most grownups wish you to ignore. I say that because it was the grownups that had the most trouble with the Maitreyans. Then as now, grownups rule the world.
Incidentally, my spell check just wanted me to change Maitreyans to Martians, truly I have a grown up spell check.
Anyway, Kumi Maitreya was an ordinary Moss St. housewife here, named Geraldine Hooper, when somehow she achieved a state of spiritual enlightenment. Believe what you will; but, she formed a tribe of young followers from the fringes of society that for a time was in charge of the French Quarter. She could, and did, look within people’s souls and tell them the sound of their vibration and give it back to them as their one true name. Names like Ravi, Eldra, Elfren, Amzie, Angelica, Kutami, Dorje (yours truly), and Abraxsas.
She taught that since the Universe was infinite, everywhere (including ourselves) was, in fact, The Center of the Universe. And where exactly would God live? Exactly, in The Center of the Universe, which meant that God lived inside of all of us. Taking that thought a little further, we come to the conclusion that our bodies are temples, we are all ministers and our homes are churches. This latter conclusion had something to do with the law not being able to bust churches just because our ‘sacrament’ was a substance that was illegal in the grownup world (namely, LSD). It all made sense to me.
And so for a time, The French Quarter streets rang with the sounds of “OIA!” (pronounced OH EE AH!!) which is the sound of a positive vibration; and, the symbol of the Cardinal Cross was seen everywhere.
Kumi also taught us that war was wrong, that the Government was in fact our servants and that each of us should have an altar in our living spaces. That still makes sense to me. There was also a lot of drumming and dancing, if I recall correctly.
I have, and have had, altars at the many places that I have called home, call it a hangover from the old days. My altar is the last thing I look at before entering the asylum (the outside world) and my altar greets me when I am successfully able to make it back home from the outside world (where the crazy people live).
My altar is two and a half feet wide and goes up to a nine foot ceiling, it consists of seven levels, each level full is of holy (as I see them) articles.
On the top level is a portrait of Saint Expedite by local artist Shmeula that I bought at Grace Note, a small but perfect shop at nine hundred Royal St. The portrait depicts an aura-ed African American male with the caption “Please Help Us Immediately!”
According to legend (which as we know is not fact) St. Expedite is a New Orleans saint. It seems that we were having trouble, in the early days, getting statuary in from Europe to our fast growing number of churches being built here. Someone over there stamped one of the crates EXPEDITE, and when it was opened here, they naturally thought that it was the name of the saint. The statue is in the Our Lady Of Guadalupe Church on Rampart and Conti Street, which also houses the Shrine Of St. Jude (patron saint of lost causes).
Also on my altar are many pictures of various saints, the fender of a bike once stolen from me, three Mexican kewpie dolls named Lupe, Rosa and Pilar, silver quarters, a figurine of Batman that I found face down on Bourbon Street, dollar bills that I have made wishes on and a book titled ‘The Making Of Black Revolutionaries’ by James Forman.
There’s also a rubber snake, a sheet of stamps with the face of Audrey Hepburn on them, a photo of my dog Trudy who died, a box of marionette clown heads and a full nativity scene using everything but holy statuettes. A bottle with holy water in it (plucked from the trash), a ceramic Mayan god, tarot cards, The Book of Runes and a video made by the Dali Lama.
A Zippo lighter, a pocketknife, candles, incense, joss paper, alcohol, hot pepper sauce, photos of friends and the obituary of a close working companion. A SouthEast Asian broom, a bingo card, a head of garlic, rosaries and crucifixes. I’ve got a bottle of Holt’s Chill Tonic, the eyes of Buddha, playing cards, alligators, elephants, sea shells, safety pins, a Pabst Blue Ribbon bottle opener and a PBR tap pull. There’s also a hula dancer, some ververte weed, an empty bottle of cologne that my daughter gave me at fourteen that I saved the last of it until she married this year at twenty seven and a bear shaped container with about an inch of golden syrup that I greet each day upon reentering (“hi honey, I’m home!”). Am I superstitious? I don’t think so, a little excessive maybe, but not superstitious (did I mention the voodoo doll?).
Maitreyans believe that freedom and joy are essential components of daily life and that it is important to live a perfect life right now, not some time in the future. So what became of the Maitreyans? Well, you may call it the struggle of good against evil and you might say that, as Maitreyans, we got our asses kicked.
What remains of the Maitreyans, I don’t know. I’ve only connected with a handful in the last five or six years. I guess they’re out there somewhere. Kumi has gone on to whatever she was meant to do in her next life (if she didn’t make it to nirvana). And I sit at a keyboard wondering how I spent that many years high on life and why we couldn’t make more of a go of it. I guess once you’ve created that many centers of the Universe; it would be hard to get them to stick together. OIA!


Ingmar Pema Dechen said...

Hi Dorje Maitreya/Phil,
I was delighted to find your tidbit on Kumi and our tribe of Bodhisalaists.

I'm not surprised we scattered like light seeds in a strong wind. That was, I'm sure, the best way to actually display through our lives what we became familiar with about the lovelight core of our essential mind during the psychedelic initiations Kumi offered in Bodhi Sala Ashrama.

For many of us, what Kumi midwifed us into re-cognizing, many of us had already experienced earlier in our lives without the morning glory or peyote or lsd, sometimes even as children. She helped us understand, which made our recognition confirmed and stable, a great gift indeed. I feel total gratitude for those years from 1968 to 1982 when Kumi was my heart teacher.

The last time I saw Kumi, about 1994, I asked her how I could ever express my gratitude. She said "teach, my daughter". So I've done my best, along the path life has unfolded under my feet. I might write some of this adventure so far in my own blog in the next few months.

I'd love to hear more about how your time with Kumi has informed/inspired the rest of your life so far. There isn't much I've found that gives a good taste of those days. Nefer does a great job as Benjamin Free. Darlene Fife touches on Kumi and Bodhisala, but with a bit more of an outsider's view, in her book about those times in NO.

That no religious institution survived is, to my view, the strongest proof of Kumi's skillful means. Realization is always from inside out. It seems to me, the care and operation of any religious structure soon enough drags itself away from that living everfresh source through too much concern over external operations and creates a lineage of structure tenders. Real guru differs from this as a naturally emanating wake up energy, just as it is, which can jump start those around her or him. But always the jump start assists in unveiling one's own innate inner process. It sure is not something extra added by the guru to the student. That is the most profoundly magical wonder of the process.

Relax open in lovelight.
Ingmar Kulombia Maitreya/Ngawang Pema Dechen Zangmo

PhoenixRising said...

I just ran across this blog and was delighted! Ingmar, it was so good to read your words about those days, and to find this blog. I'm also one of the scattered Maitreyans...Roca. I've been in touch with Aurora for the past few years and am also trying to find other Maitreyans that were there at the time I was. I just moved to Portland after over 36 years in Alaska. I express a lot of my spirituality and universal view through poetry. I have one book published and another about to be. I've definitely bookmarked this blog and hope that others will find it as well :)

Roca Maitreya/Carol Dixon

Leon said...

This is Nyima Maitreya. AKA Whitey. Hello, Ingmar. I was with Kumi and Amito before the quarter scene and the pyschedelics. Kumi called me when I visited NOLA shortly before she ascended and was living with Solaris, and caught me up on the events that led her to internalize Bodhi Sala. She was on fire. She gave me my first initiation in 1968. I am eternally grateful for her teachings. I still hear her voice. OIA.

russell said...

been thinking about Ani lately. would appreciate any info. thanks

Cheftom said...


Wonderful to hear your words and those of others! Reading them brought a flood of memories. I will be curious to hear from other members of the tribe and see what impact the "scattered seeds" are having in the world. I suspect we are up to wonderful things!


Ingmar Ngawang Pema Dechen Zangmo said...

Hi back, you all.
Nice to see you. But none of you left a way to contact.

I made this blog for BodhiSalaists

In case any of you want to visit together there too.

Unknown said...


I am Rod Clarken (Zoroaster) and was initiated in April 1970. I appreciate the sharing and will post more as it seems appropriate. You can contact me and read my stuff at

Jessica Radcliffe said...

Amzie was named by his mother. His father and son are also named Amzie. He is still a devotee of Kumi Maitreya.

xxxxxx said...

Hey, Wow! it is great to hear someone talking about Bodhi Sala again. This is ORION. OIA to one and all. I love everyone's posts! How exciting! I have just been out of touch so long (except in my dreams), I only see Mimosa every now and then. Maybe this is the beginning of the group reforming? At least on some plane? My kids don't even know about Bohdi Sala. I think I will tell them. The last time I saw Kumi was at Karuna Rosa's funeral. OIA, live free everyone. My email is Love you all!

Mark Winer said...

Good day all
I was in NO in the late 60's and we used to interact with the KUMI people in the French Quarter
They used to give out a very mild mild dose of LSD
for free or donation
the thought was you only needed this small dose to go about your everyday life
I was just thinking about the Kumi people and googled and found this blog
mark in Vermont said...

Looked up Kumi on a whim and came across this. I am one of the rare people to grow up in the French Quarter and was quite young when I first became with Kumi and the Bohdisala Ashrama. Used to go by the name of alley bear-given to me by a free spirit named mama bear-remember bear people? -smiling-

Uzaznàra Raliuga said...

Hello everybody,
I'm the daughter of one of you, Bermiza Maitreya, my dad, he has taught me so much about the ways of Maitreyans but he never actually named it as such, he just lived by it therefore I learned this things as a natural thing, and I as I read all of your posts about life, and altars, and concepts, I realize I live like this aswel. Looking for you came through for me once I found a really old paper, it was my dad's initiation date and name, I then learned about all of this, and I'm currently searching for the same paper, it seems, daddy, at his age, kinda misplaced it in a huge huge library and I can't manage to find it back, since this saddens him I took the task of trying to find the image of the dragon which was on it and get a tattoo of it (I could lie and say another thing, but I won't) I don't wanna go around making a big deal out of a tattoo or seem like a jerk for this, I mean no disrespect, I want it to stay with me so that in my darkest hour - for there will be many dark hours in life- remember all he has taugh me, all that everyone of you taught me, and perhaps I, even if not a Maitreyan by name like you, certainly have taught and will teach as I learn too from everybody I cross paths with along life and carry on the things I've learned.
The heart of the matter guys is, even though dad is in good health currently, it is unstable, I promised him we'd go back to NO one day, together, but I do not know if we'll be able to given the situation and I would love to let him see again this dragon's image and somehow take him to NO with me, considering it will be an expression of love and compromise I do want to make with him for as long as he stays here, and then to remember for as long as I live this is not a shallow request from me... He was ordered back in the early 70's, if any of you has the image of the dragon, and is willing to provide it for me, please PLEASE email me at
I will appreciate it forever.

Peace and greetings to all of you.
Thanks for taking the time to read along...


Orion said...

Hi Brother Maitreyan, I'm sorry I do not believe I met your Dad even though we were ordained about the same time. I lost certificate along the way , but I sure rennet the dragon. Sure someone reading this blog will have one. I'll also send out some emails ANC see what I can find for you. I know the significance your Dad would attach to the dragon. All the best and OIA, ORION

Orion said...

I mean, Sister Maitreyan. My sight is not so good any morf on these tiny screens!!

Uzaznàra Raliuga said...

Hehe, don't worry about it, I do too struggle at times with the tiny gadgets nowadays. I have received your e-mails, thank you so much for all of them, and for taking me in, you guys made me feel right at home.

I've shown the dragon to my dad and he immediately said OIA, was very very happy that I could find it and precisely asked me if you could remember him, then he said it didn't matter for you're always within him and so is he. He did say I should ask you about Ely and Belami, and was very happy to know you're out there.
Oh, if we shall keep in touch I must say my name is Aránzazu, (it's just spelled backwards in my nickname) thank you for the happiness you've brought to my home.

Peace, love and OIA,

L. Harris said...

I was one of the bear people, too. Country Bear. There were almost as many bears as Maitreyans. And some were both. We scattered like the wind, too. But I'm back in NOLA, growing old gracefully and enlightened.

Orion said...

I never knew much about the bear people. Could you give me some general background? Thanks, Orion.


Is there a direct link ?

Robin Hurston said...

I worked with Aurora/ Ksren back then. We were at Parkway Commission, siting vacant lot owners for messy lots. I'd love to find her again.