Allen Ginsberg, Salman Rushdie, & Meditation

Salman Rushdie, describing a moment, in 1989 in New York, in protective custody, following the issuing of the notorious fatwa  that followed on the publication of his novel, The Satanic Verses

“I spent that day in a fourteenth-floor suite with at least twenty armed men. The windows were blocked by bullet-proof mattresses. Outside the door were more armed men with Schwarzenegger-sized muscles and weaponry. In this suite I had a series of meetings which must remain secret, except perhaps for one. I was able to meet with the poet Allen Ginsberg for twenty minutes.The moment he arrived, he pulled cushions off the sofas and set them on the floor. “Take off your shoes and  sit down”, he said, “I’m going to teach you some simple meditation exercises. They should help you handle your terrible situation”. Our mutual literary agent, Andrew Wylie, was there and I made him do it too, which, squawking somewhat, he did. While we did our breathing and chanting, I thought how extraordinary it was for an Indian by birth to be taught Buddhism by an American poet sitting cross-legged in a room full of men armed to the gills. There’s nothing like life; you can’t make this stuff up.”

[Salman Rushdie – from Step Across The Line – Collected Nonfiction 1992-2002 – (a revised account of this encounter, a re-telling of the same tale, appears in the author’s 2012 volume, Joseph Anton)]

Salman Rushdie – Photograph by Allen Ginsberg

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