“Teachers are provided by Creation to help seekers on their path of return. Their only joy is in befriending the soul of man. They have no other purpose on Earth.”
— Murshida Carol Weyland Conner
Love Awakes In Matter
“To penetrate into the essence of all being and significance, and to release the fragrance of that inner attainment for the guidance and benefit of others, by expressing in the world of forms truth, love, purity and beauty – this is the sole game which has any intrinsic and absolute worth.
All other happenings, incidents, and attainments in themselves can have no lasting importance.”
— Meher Baba
Descendent Spirituality and the New Consciousness
“To love God in the most practical way is to love our fellow beings. If we feel for others in the same way as we feel for our own dear ones, we love God.”
— Meher Baba
“The service programs I have created in our community are not social work or ‘charity’. They are pursued in emulation of Meher Baba’s service programs begun in the 1920s at Lower Meherabad and carried forward today. They give expression to the principles of God’s New Creation, embodying the Truth that all are One. When we work in this spirit and in His name, He can use each occasion to spread the spark of His love and uplift all.
“None of these projects came about through any deliberate planning on my part. In every case, a door opened on vistas gleaming with His higher principles, and I simply walked through without any foreknowledge of where it might lead. But in every case, it has led to new opportunities to share God’s love with others and further His work of bringing the New Creation to birth.
“While the totals are impressive and very satisfying, neither the size nor reach of these efforts really matters to me. More important is the underlying motive that prompts us to undertake this work – to help foster a world where the inequities of opulence and poverty are dissolved, and all share in a prosperity and happiness that flow from true spiritual brotherhood.”
— Murshida Conner
“All of us taking care of all of us”
White Pony Express
Regarding the founding of White Pony Express (WPE), Murshida recalls, “When I saw the disparities in my own neighborhood on my daily walks, I couldn’t help but ask, ‘What if there was a way for those who have more than they need to easily give it to those with less, so that all could share in life’s abundance? What if such an exchange was done, not as an act of charity, but with the love we feel for our own family?’” She began this program in 2013 to address hunger and poverty in her California county.
Today White Pony Express provides the connecting link between sources of abundance and those in need through its major programs: Food Rescue, White Pony General Store, and Homeless Services.
This program uses the challenge that food markets face – what to do with surplus fresh food – to solve the problem of hunger. Every day team members pick up over three tons of excess nutritious food from area markets, then deliver it free to shelters and service organizations that feed people suffering from hunger.
Fresh groceries on their way to hungry people in a shelter, bringing to life “All of us taking care of all of us”.
A young customer relishes what she found at a White Pony General Store Mobile Boutique.
White Pony General Store
The General Store receives or purchases surplus items from manufacturers, distributors, and stores and gives them to those in need through its programs.
Volunteers take high-quality new and like-new clothing for adults and children, plus toys and children’s books to lower-income neighborhoods where they stage Boutiques that create the atmosphere of an upscale store. Wardrobe consultants help guests find attractive outfits for job interviews, church, and school meetings. Murshida Conner’s wish is that this free shopping experience be filled with beauty, good fashion, courtesy, and respect.
A volunteer wraps warm clothing around a homeless man.
Cold Weather Clothing Pr0gram
In the winter of 2016, when two homeless men died from the cold not far from Murshida Conner’s Walnut Creek, California, home, she created this program to ensure no one in the region would suffer that way again. The program has given away thousands of winter articles – new warm coats, hats, gloves, and more. Volunteers also hand homeless people life-saving backpacks filled with these items, and partner with church groups, police departments, and others to serve those without shelter.
Those without shelter or who are at risk of losing their housing are served through this program’s activities.
Murshida Conner receives the AARP tribute.
Murshida Conner converses with a homeless man in Walnut Creek, California.
Fire Evacuee Relief
After the devastating Camp Fire in Northern California, volunteers delivered ready-to-eat food, clothing, and cash donations to evacuees twice a week.
For inspiring and organizing these unstinting efforts, Murshida Conner was awarded AARP California’s 2019 Andrus Award for Community Service.
White Pony Inn
Individuals can be sliding down the slope to homelessness because they face challenges they find overwhelming. The Inn provides individualized counseling, medical advice, and loving aid to help people regain balance in their lives.
White Pony Inn volunteers aid warming shelters and faith communities that serve the homeless. They provide hot meals and clothing for people being released from hospitals and prisons.
“Children growing up in inner-city neighborhoods are often surrounded by poverty, crime, and neglect,” notes Murshida, who worked with these children for years. “I saw how love and kindness could uplift their lives.” She created this program to convey the loving spirit of Francis of Assisi who, though born to wealth and comfort, embraced poverty but did not let it prevent him from living a life of joy and loving service to God and His world.
Francis in the Schools
Several hundred children at a time attend these outings, aimed at strengthening their core sense of self by giving them a day completely focused on their happiness. Children attend a lively and inspiring musical play and an exciting Faire with games, dancing, crafts, face painting, flower arranging, and more. Children have exclaimed, “This was the most wonderful day of my life.”
A happy girl shows her colorful face painting at a Francis in the Schools Faire.
Children from the Carver Apartments flying kites at one of their outings.
Francis in the Dunes
In the popular seaside resort of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, nearly a quarter of the residents live at or below the poverty line. Volunteers help support families living in the Carver Apartments, a low-income complex, by purchasing and delivering quality groceries, clothing, tricycles, bicycles, and beds to sleep in. They also arrange outings to strengthen the residents’ sense of community, such as going to the movies together. A six-week summer day camp for the children enables them to explore jewelry design, visual and culinary arts, floral arranging, music, dancing, and swimming.
During the winter holidays, volunteers in California and Washington D.C. provide children in lower-income public schools with personally selected gifts – food, coats, clothing, blankets, new educational toys, books at the child’s reading level, art supplies, and their favorite stuffed animal.
A grateful boy hugs the volunteer who delivered his gifts.
Living in a Sacred Space
With Murshida Conner
Poems & Plays
In addition to the weekly classes Murshida Conner prepares for her students, she gives formal and informal talks and publishes essays for friends and colleagues who request them.
The qualification for serving in the role of a spiritual Teacher is the advanced maturity that comes naturally from experience over a myriad of lifetimes. Such maturity can only be fully recognized by someone of equal or greater maturity, which is why a lineage of Illumined Teachers unfolds by each teacher naming his or her successor.
To provide guidance to students in contemporary life who are walking the spiritual path, a spiritual teacher must have mastered the culture’s mores and understood the psychological, social, and economic dynamics of the culture of the time. Highlights of Murshida Conner’s apprenticeship in the life of today’s world can be summarized as follows:
Dr. Carol Weyland Conner was born on a Pawnee Indian Reservation, 70 miles from Prague, Oklahoma. Her father, a music educator, was doing alternative military duty due to a physical disability.
Raised in Central California’s San Joaquin Valley, she studied English literature at UC Berkeley, French literature at the Sorbonne in Paris, and medieval studies at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore before receiving her Ph.D. in 1976 in clinical psychology from Catholic University in Washington, D.C. After teaching for several years in the George Washington University School of Medicine, she went into private practice as a therapist, practicing for twenty-five years in Walnut Creek, California, during which time she was also a volunteer counselor with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in San Francisco.
Painting of Murshida Conner
on the day she was initiated.
Initiated into Sufism at the age of 35 by Murshida Ivy O. Duce, she was named murshida by both her predecessors, Murshida Duce and Murshid James MacKie, and assumed office in 2001.
She is married to Gary Conner, a retired attorney. They have two children and five grandchildren.