Seven Pillars House of Wisdom > Blog > Alia Johnson, February 14, 1948 to May 5, 2010

Alia Johnson, February 14, 1948 to May 5, 2010

Posted by Gayan Macher on June 19, 2010

Alia was my teacher and my friend, two most beautiful words.

Encountering Alia was a source of revelation born out of true meeting. With her I learned a great deal about sharing relationship in the depths, void of pretense or defenses. Such a friendship can redeem a person’s life, and further, can disclose the purpose and beauty of this world of duality. This was her gift, and I know that others experienced this with her as well.

Guiding souls was Alia’s science and her art. She was guide and teacher to several hundred students—accompanying them with exquisite integrity, kindness and wisdom. She served her students, and they trusted her because they could sense that she was there for them, not for herself. I am confident that many of them, through the years, experienced Alia as the most important human relationship in their souls’ journey, and I am touched by the beauty and preciousness of a life given to this purpose.

Spiritual conversation with Alia was an adventure and a delight. It was to engage in a duet of improvisational mystical jazz. She was so well read, so knowledgeable. Yet intellectual knowledge did not constrain her. She belonged to the mystery, with a love so large and pure that she readily left the shore of her own perspective. She was a child of the moment, exquisitely naked and transparent, completely personal and simultaneously impersonal. Her mind and her life were a remarkable flow of creativity—unique aliveness arising out of the Absolute into the most amazing forms of insight and expression. Alia gave herself to the mystery not only out of incurable curiosity, but even more out of deep devotion to Truth.

One of Alia’s great contributions, along with her teacher A.H. Almaas (she worked closely as his editor on many books), was the exploration of modern psychology in relation to the methods and orientations of the spiritual traditions. Depending on how the terms “psychology” and “spirituality” are defined, these can be discriminated from each other, and Alia would do so with precision. More importantly, however, she understood how, in the realm of human consciousness, these domains are inseparable. I believe her teaching in this area has helped to advance the process of spiritual awakening. Her knowledge enabled her to work effectively with people through the stages of dissolution of the false/adaptive self, and to support a more stable identification with the true self. It allowed her to respond, with intelligence and compassion, to the most pressing questions and suffering in people’s lives.

A few days before she died she sent this last note. It conveys both the most graceful letting go and simultaneously her unending participation in the One discovering Itself. 

Dear friends,

My body is not in pain but I am getting progressively weaker…. I am profoundly exhausted. My soul is in a very delicate process of clarification, which is going on every moment. It requires all my subtle attention. It’s hard for me to write or speak with people, though I am always happy to hear from you. I am often resting blissfully.

My deepest satisfaction is knowing how the living revelation of the truth lives in us.


Gayan has been a teacher and guide in the tradition of universal Sufism for over 30 years. He was instrumental in the founding of Suluk Academy, the core esoteric training of the Sufi Order International, and has been a lead teacher since its inception. He also helped to launch Seven Pillars House of Wisdom and served as its first Chair of the Board. Professionally, he consults to corporate executives about the art and practice of human relations, and has worked with organizations including Hewlett Packard, BellSouth, Kaiser Permanente and the US Army, among many others. Gayan is also a singer song writer.

Read more about Gayan Macher

Comments (2)
  • What an extraordinary tribute to Alia’s being and her deep, inspiring work.  You write so beautifully and I am deeply moved by your compassion and depth of spirit.  Thank you for writing this beautiful piece.

    — Elaine Resnick on July 3, 2010

  • I have long been a student of Alia’s.  However, time and space have put us on opposite ends of the US. for the last 13 years.  Your words express some of my true love for her.  Thank you. I find myself searching the internet for signs of her life.  You have provided me with the kernel that I was looking for.  Thank you.  Keri Haskell Starbuck

    — Keri Starbuck on September 29, 2010

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19 June 2010

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