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Murshida Carol Weyland Conner



“A central principle of love is to offer one’s very best;

nothing less will do.”

– Murshida Conner


Murshida Carol Weyland Conner, the spiritual director of Sufism Reoriented, the American spiritual school created by Meher Baba, completed the work of this life and passed away peacefully at the age of 80 at her home in Walnut Creek, California, on April 22, 2023.

The daughter of a musician and educator, she was born in a small town in Oklahoma just 70 miles from Prague, where Meher Baba would seal his covenant with America through his 1952 auto accident. Raised in northern Minnesota and central California, she studied English literature at UC Berkeley, French literature at the Sorbonne in Paris, and medieval studies at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The sudden mental illness of a close family member led her to change her field to psychology, and she received her doctorate from Catholic University in Washington, DC, in 1976. After four years teaching at the George Washington University School of Medicine, Dr. Conner went into private practice as a therapist in Walnut Creek, California; she worked also as a volunteer counselor with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in nearby San Francisco.

Dr. Conner learned of Meher Baba and Sufism Reoriented in the mid-1970s. She first visited Meher Baba’s samadhi in 1977, where she had a profound inner experience of Baba’s divinity. She joined Sufism Reoriented in 1979 and became a close companion of Murshida Ivy Duce, serving as her personal attendant until Murshida Duce passed in 1981. When Dr. Conner assumed her office in 2001, her charge flowed from both her predecessors, Murshida Duce and Murshid James MacKie, who had jointly named her to succeed them.

Over an extraordinary tenure of nearly twenty-two years, Murshida Conner energized and expanded the activities of Sufism Reoriented in many new directions to support and amplify Meher Baba’s principles of life.  “Meher Baba’s advent,” she said, “is nothing less than the dawn of a New Creation – a new spiritual age and a new direction of life itself. It is a moment of universal change. Most important, it is the birth of a new divine consciousness, to be lived and walked right here in the gross world of material form.” All of Murshida Conner’s work has been in the service of this new direction. She called this period a “flowering” of Sufism and noted a number of significant achievements:

The Sanctuary

Over a twelve-year period, Murshida Conner directed the design, funding, and construction of a permanent home for Sufism Reoriented in California. It is the first sanctuary in the Western Hemisphere dedicated to non-dual Truth. Designed by Murshida in collaboration with the Philip Johnson-Alan Ritchie architectural firm, using the finest materials and craftsmanship, adorned with artwork celebrating divine principles, the Sanctuary is intended to last for hundreds of years.

In 2013, Sufism was offered the opportunity to purchase Youpon Dunes, the oceanfront house in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, once owned by Elizabeth Patterson, where Meher Baba stayed for five weeks while recuperating from his Oklahoma accident in 1952. As steward of this important landmark of spiritual history, Murshida Conner has renovated and redecorated this sacred site to honor its function as a spiritual retreat. The ability to spend several months there each year opened the door for Murshida and her students to take a more active role in the life of Myrtle Beach, “Baba’s home in the West.”

Youpon Dunes

Work with Baba Centers

Fulfilling a promise made by her predecessor, Murshid MacKie, Murshida Conner extended and strengthened the relationship of Sufism Reoriented with the Meher Baba Universal Spiritual Centre at Byramangala, India, founded by Meher Baba in 1939. Murshida arranged to provide the Center with a replica of the Divine Theme mural created for the Sufi Sanctuary, and was a keynote speaker at important gatherings there in 2004 and 2019.

MurshidaCarolWeylandConner India.jpg

Murshida’s Talk, “The Universal Plan”, Byramangala 2019

Divine Theme Murals Contributed to

Byramangala Center, 2019

Similarly, Murshida has supported the development of the Meher Baba Heartland Center in Prague, Oklahoma, which memorializes Baba’s 1952 auto accident, representing his covenant with America: she was a keynote speaker at commemorative gatherings there in 2002, 2005 and 2012.

At the accident site, Prague, Oklahoma, 2002

Murshida also had the privilege of joining and supporting programs and celebrations at Meherabad and Meherazad. For many years, she contributed essays and presentations on different phases of Baba’s life for the annual Avataric Treasure programs at Meherabad sponsored by the Avatar Meher Baba Trust and moderated by Gokaran Shrivastava. Most memorably, in August of 2002, she led 200 Sufis to Meherabad to stage a week-long Music and Arts festival, and in November of 2012 Murshida joined Bhau Kalchuri as speakers at the golden anniversary celebration of Baba’s East-West Gathering, where Sufi singers and dancers were also featured.

God Speaks – the Musical!
Music and Arts Festival at Meherabad, 2002

Murshida and Bhau,
East-West Gathering Celebration, 2012

Carrying Baba’s Message

Murshida and her Sufi performers have presented Meher Baba’s message of unity in musical programs at sacred shrines in Assisi, Italy and in Mexico City; have given a concert at the United Nations in New York; and have offered devotional programs at centers of worship, schools, colleges, and outdoor parks in major cities in America. 

Sufi Chorus in Union Square, San Francisco, 2007

Honoring Upasni Maharaj

A copy of the English biography of Upasni Maharaj offered at his shrine in Sakori, October 2022.

In 2013 Murshida assumed the responsibility for editing and publishing a new contemporary English translation of the first biography of Meher Baba’s master, Upasni Maharaj. Conceived by Baba himself,  it was originally written in Gujarati by his disciple Baily Irani in 1922. The initial English translation was made by Dr. Anurag Gumashta of Baroda, who worked with Murshida and an editorial team from Sufism over nearly seven years to prepare this new, annotated edition for a contemporary Western audience. The publication of this new translation by Sufism Reoriented in 2020 fulfilled Baba’s wish, expressed in 1923, that this biography be published in English for the West, “especially America.” This unique and valuable spiritual biography offers Western seekers for the first time a clear, authentic guide to the unfolding of higher consciousness as Maharaj himself experienced it. 

Service Programs

Murshida Conner is perhaps best known for developing new models of volunteer community service to aid those on the margins of society. Programs she started on a small scale with her students have been enthusiastically adopted by the wider community, winning numerous civic awards for their work. Founded in 2011, Following Francis, inspired by St. Francis of Assisi’s example of loving service to all humanity, now includes ongoing projects in Washington, D.C., Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Los Angeles. In each of these cities Following Francis volunteers are working to improve neglected neighborhoods and provide aid to hundreds of children and families.

The White Pony Express, formed in 2013 to gather surplus fresh food from markets and restaurants and deliver it to service agencies that feed the hungry in Contra Costa County, is now one of California’s largest food rescue programs. In addition to food, it has expanded to include redistribution of unsold new clothing and other goods – most recently gathering and sending emergency supplies of non-perishable food, clothing, and medical supplies to Ukrainian refugees in Europe.

Murshida Conner described these service programs as demonstrations of a new paradigm of life she called “voluntary shared abundance.” She explained, “In this model of life, responsibility for helping the family of man is assumed by everyone, or in the phrase the White Pony Express often uses, ‘All of us taking care of all of us.’”

Although Murshida received many accolades and awards for these programs. she explained, “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. . . . It is the work of setting to rights what is amiss in the world. It is the work of Love.”


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